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Cyador's Heirs (Saga of Recluce)
Cyador's Heirs (Saga of Recluce)
by Modesitt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.09

4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, well written and enjoyable new Recluce novel, 9 July 2014
I have to confess that L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Saga of Recluce has been a "guilty pleasure" of mine for a long time. I've enjoyed reading this saga ever since the first novel (The Magic of Recluce) was published, and I still enjoy reading new Recluce novels.

Although Cyador's Heirs is the 17th novel of the Saga of Recluce, this series hasn't lost its freshness and hasn't gone stale like many other long-running fantasy series. It has stayed as interesting and original as it was when the first novel was published. This is quite an achievement, because it's difficult to maintain quality in a long-running fantasy series. In my opinion L. E. Modesitt Jr. is one of the few authors who genuinely seems to love his fantasy world and doesn't let the quality of the saga drop into meaningless mediocrity that many other authors are guilty of accomplishing with their long-running series.

Cyador's Heirs is proof of the fact that L. E. Modesitt Jr. is capable of writing new novels about his fantasy world without losing sight of how to entertain his readers. I'm aware that the author has been criticized for recycling certain plot elements in this series, but it has never bothered me, because this fantasy series is good entertainment on many levels. In my opinion recycling certain plot elements isn't a bad thing when it's done right (in this series it's definitely done right). I think it's nice that the author still manages to keep this series entertaining and doesn't dish new novels out for the sake of making money, but actually concentrates on writing them properly. (This is a good enough reason alone to read this fantasy novel.)

Cyador's Heirs addresses what happens to the heirs of a fallen empire in an intriguing way. It's a continuation of the storyline that was previously introduced to the readers in the Saga of Recluce. This novel is a continuation of the Cyador storyline and it brings more depth to the already well-realized fantasy world by revealing what happens to the heirs of Cyador.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

The events take place after the destruction of Cyador. The survivors fled from Cyador to Hamor and established the dukedom of Cigoerne. Lerial lives in Cigoerne with his family. Lerial's aunt, Emerya, teaches him healing (Emerya also tells him to sense order and chaos patterns in other people). Soon Lerial's father sends him to spend time with Majer Altyrn in Teilyn, because Lerial needs to learn certain things... When time passes, Lerial begins to develop his powers...

Cyador's Heirs is as much as a coming of age story as it is an epic fantasy novel. The author concentrates nicely on writing about Lerial and things around him. As Lerial grows up and learns to manipulate power in different forms (magic, political skills and military skills), things gradually begin to move forward.

Characterization is good in this novel, because L. E. Modesitt, Jr. has a talent for creating believable and three-dimensional characters. I appreciate good characterization, because it brings depth to the story.

The protagonist in Cyador's Heirs is Lerial, the second son of Duke Kiedron. He has an older brother called Lephi. Lerial is an intelligent young man who questions what happens around him and why something is possible and other things aren't. He is an interesting and likeable character that readers can easily relate to and care about.

The other characters are also interesting and well created characters, but not as three-dimensional as Lerial. I enjoyed reading about Lerial's father, Majer Altyrn, Lephi and other characters, because the author wrote about them and their actions in a realistic and compelling way.

In my opinion the author writes realistically about the relationship between brothers and family members. In my opinion he manages to highlight the tension and differences between Lerial and Lephi surprisingly well. Although they're brothers, they're different from each other and pay attention to different things. Lerial's difference from his brother is reflected by the way he acts around his brother.

What I like perhaps most about this novel is that everything that's connected to Lerial and his growing up feels natural and realistic. I've read many coming of age fantasy stories, so I can say that this novel is one of the few novels in which you can actually see how the protagonist grows up and what he feels as he grows up and begins to understand new things.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. has written well about magic in his previous Recluce novels, and he also writes well about it in this novel. I enjoyed reading about how Lerial studied magic and how he learned to control it. The author writes believably about Lerial's attempts to understand how magic works and what he can do with order and chaos.

The author writes fluently about life in the countryside and what it means to be part of a family and what kind of responsibilities a person has when he's part of a community. When Lerian comes to stay at Majer Altyrn's house, he learns to do many new things and also gets to know Majer Altyrn's family. It was genuinely interesting to read how Lerial learned to do things and how he grew up as a person when he stayed at Majer Altyrn's house.

Such things as love and infatuation are explored realistically and without underlining in this novel. What happens between Lerial and Rojana is handled skillfully.

As readers of the Saga of Recluce know, this saga hasn't been written in chronological order. This is one of the strengths of this saga. Another strength of this series is the author's ability to add philosophical elements to the storyline. He manages to infuse his stories with philosophy without being too condescending or overbearing. There are philosophical elements in this novel and they're all handled well.

The author writes fluently about conflicts, potential enemies and threats that the survivors of the fallen empire face. The author also has a talent for writing about economical and political elements, because he writes admirably about them. He has infused his story with these elements, but never lets the story drown in them. He also writes fluently about military life and what people do to defend themselves.

One of the best things about this novel (and the other novels in this saga) is the fact that events often relate to other times and places just like in real life. I like this kind of storytelling, because it adds a touch of realism to the storyline and separates this saga from several other fantasy sagas.

It's worth mentioning that the Saga of Recluce is a surprisingly accessible fantasy series to new readers. Although it may be good to know certain things about the fantasy world, it isn't actually necessary to know anything about the world in order to enjoy the story. It's quite easy to jump into this series almost at any point. I consider this novel to be such an entry point for new readers, because it's an accessible and well written novel. (If you're a newcomer to this saga and need more information about this series, information can be easily found on the internet.)

I think it's good to mention that Cyador's Heirs is the first part of a duology. The story will continue in Heritage of Cyador, which will be published in November 2014. I look forward to reading it, because it'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Cyador's Heirs is a well written, fascinating and enjoyable fantasy novel. It can be recommended to both newcomers to the series and to readers who have been reading the Saga of Recluce for many years. It will appeal to both readerships, because it offers perfect escapism to fantasy readers. If you're looking for an entertaining epic fantasy novel that has a bit more depth in it than other fantasy novels have, you can't go wrong by buying and reading this novel.

Good and well written fantasy entertainment!


Time of Death: Induction: 1
Time of Death: Induction: 1
by Shana Festa
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, fast-paced and well written zombie fiction!, 30 Jun 2014
Zombie fiction has become increasingly popular among speculative fiction readers and horror fans, and many zombie novels have been written and published during the last decade. Because many zombie novels have recently been published, it's nice to see such good and entertaining novels as Shana Festa's Time of Death: Induction appear on bookshelves.

Shana Festa's Time of Death: Induction was a positive surprise for me, because I found myself liking it. I don't normally read much zombie fiction, because I've been a bit disappointed with the quality of certain novels, so it was nice to read a good story for a change. When I began to read this novel I was drawn into the story by the author's fast-paced storytelling, characters and brutal happenings. It was good zombie entertainment.

Here's a bit of information about the story: This novel starts with an interesting prologue which describes how the zombie infection begins. Emma Rossi is a nurse student who lives in Florida. She has a husband, Jake, who's scared of all kinds of germs. They have a dog, Daphne, but they don't have any children. She lives pretty normal life, but the her life changes totally, when a heavy storm approaches and the zombie infection begins to spread. Emma, Jake and Daphne have to escape from their house...

The story is told from Emma's point of view. The first person narrative mode works in favour of the story, because it makes things more personal than third person narrative mode. The author concenctrates nicely on writing about what happens to Emma, her husband and her dog.

The main characters are three-dimensional, which is good, because they bring depth to the storyline. The characters in this novel could be your friends or your neighbours, because they're realistic and act in a realistic way. They're normal everyday people who are forced to fight against zombies and stay alive by all means necessary. The lesser characters aren't as three-dimensional as the main characters, but that didn't bother me much.

Emma is an interesting protagonist, because she's a woman who finds herself in a difficult situation when the zombie outbreak occurs. Shana Festa writes well about how Emma's life changes and what she has to do to survive. The world where the living dead prey on people is ruthless and Emma must be tough or she'll die. She's a caring person, but she's also strong and capable of doing what she must to survive.

The author creates a believable and realistic vision of the Emma's life, family, friends and neighbours. Her descriptions are wonderfully fluent and spot-on, and she's also capable of adding a bit of humour to her descriptions when needed. It was nice to read how Emma interacted with other survivors, because the author wrote well about it.

Shana Festa's descriptions of the nurse work feel accurate. Because she's a nurse herself, she has been able to provide accurate details of many things connected to nurse work. She doesn't glorify nursing, but she also doesn't belittle it. This kind of approach to nursing adds plenty of realism to the storyline.

In my opinion this zombie novel is interesting because of its fast-paced story and well created characters. One of the best things about this novel is that the characters feel joy, sadness and fear just like real persons. The author doesn't dwell too much on the characters' suffering, misery and losses, but describes their feelings in a realistic way.

It's great that the author is capable of delivering surprises to her readers. I've always considered surprises to be an important part of well written zombie fiction, because otherwise stories and novels would be quite predictable and boring.

I have to mention that I found it interesting that Shana Festa wrote touchingly about Emma's love for her dog, Daphne (Daphne is important to Emma and she's part of her family). This is seldom seen in zombie fiction. I'm sure that all animal lovers will enjoy reading about Emma's love for her dog.

When I read this novel, I thought to myself that Shana Festa clearly loves zombie fiction and zombie movies. She has added many well-known zombie elements to her story and she succeeds in using them in a good, shocking and entertaining way. I'm not sure if the author has seen and been influenced by the remake of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (directed by Zack Snyder, 2004) in which Sarah Polley plays a nurse called Ana, but I think it's possible, because everybody who has seen this remake will most likely think of Ana when they read about Emma.

Time of Death: Induction is the first novel in a planned trilogy. The second novel, Time of Death: Asylum is forthcoming. Because I enjoyed reading this novel, I look forward to reading the second novel, because it'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Time of Death: Induction is a delightfully gory, brutal and ruthless vision of a zombie-infested world. It's a good old-fashioned yet modern zombie romp that delivers the goods on all fronts. I think that fans of zombie fiction and zombie films will be delighted to read this novel, because it's a promising and fast-paced novel that will appeal to zombie fans.

My final words are: This novel is good and well written zombie fiction!


Max Cutter and The First Black Book: Book 1 of the Max Cutter Series
Max Cutter and The First Black Book: Book 1 of the Max Cutter Series
Price: 1.83

4.0 out of 5 stars A highly entertaining urban fantasy novel with dark fantasy elements, 6 Jun 2014
Max Cutter and The First Black Book is Jacob Tate's debut novel. It's the first part of the Max Cutter series, which follows the paranormal investigations of Max Cutter. This novel was a pleasant surprise for me, because it turned out to be very entertaining.

Before I write more about this novel, I have to mention that I'm difficult to please when it comes to modern urban fantasy, because I consider modern urban fantasy to be the bane of speculative fiction. In my opinion there are way too many urban fantasy novels out there on the market nowadays and most of them tend to recycle to same plots over and over again without any kind of style and originality. There are fortunately a few good urban fantasy novels and series, but it isn't easy to find them among the bad ones. Max Cutter and The First Black Book is fortunately one of the good urban fantasy novels, because it's an entertaining and easily likeable novel.

Max Cutter and The First Black Book is an interesting combination of urban fantasy and dark fantasy, because it contains elements of both genres. Jacob Tate has combined these elements together and produced a highly entertaining and fast-paced story that will please fans of fast-paced action and adventure stories. I never would've guessed that somebody could write as entertaining a story about these elements as Jacob Tate, because it's difficult to mix these two genres in a successful way.

I mention separately that there are also traces of occult horror in this novel. In my opinion the occult horror is strongly connected to the dark fantasy elements. The First Black Book, which is an important part of the storyline, represents the occult horror element in this novel.

Jacob Tate has his own distinct writing style, which is good. The most significant difference between Jacob Tate and other urban fantasy authors is that Jacob Tate uses plenty of humour in his novel and dares to use 80's references etc.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

At the beginning of the novel, Max is investigating weird sightings on a Greek island and finds himself in trouble. When he returns home, Don King asks for Max's help, because something important has been stolen from him. Don's family has guarded The First Black Book, which contains information about supernatural things and lycanthropy. In wrong hands the book could cause problems for mankind, so Don asks Max to get the book back before anything bad happens. When Max begins to investigate the theft, he notices that things aren't as simple as they appeared to be. Soon he finds himself in the middle of a war between good and evil...

Jacob Tate has an intriguing way of writing about Max. He reveals bits and pieces of his life and work as the story begins to move forward. During the first chapters the readers get to know who Max is and what kind of work he does. The author does an excellent job of creating a character who's a bit eccentric and who's deeply interested in paranormal phenomena.

Max Cutter is an interesting character, because he's a paranormal investigator who's not afraid to get himself into trouble. He's an expert on all things paranormal and knows a lot about paranormal phenomena. Max has investigated everything from aliens to different legends. Reading about his life and investigations is fun, because he has an unending supply of humorous and witty comments. If I had to describe Max in a simple way, I'd say that he's almost like a nerdy and geeky Indiana Jones.

Max owns and manages a website and blog dedicated to supernatural things. He also owns a monthly periodical that publishes articles, photos, interviews etc that are linked to supernatural things. Both the website and the magazine are called Supernatural Pudding.

I was impressed by the author's way of using funny, sarcastic and witty humour in the storyline. Max's comments about many things were genuinely funny and insightful. It's good that the author has used plenty of humour, because it adds quite a lot of style to the story.

There are nice references to popular culture throughout the novel. I think that many readers who are familiar with popular culture will find themselves smiling (and at times laughing out loud) when they begin to read this novel, because the author uses popular culture references in a good way. As a Finn I must mention that it was interesting that Rare Exports was mentioned in this novel.

There are also other intriguing details in this novel. For example, it was interesting to read about The Ancient World War. I'm not going to reveal more information about this war, but I'll say that reading about it was fun.

I think that Max Cutter and The First Black Book will be of interest to everybody who has ever watched and liked such TV series as Kolchack: The Night Stalker and The X-Files, because there are similarities between these TV shows and this novel. This novel may also appeal to readers who enjoy watching other similar kind of TV series (Supernatural, Grimm etc).

I noticed that there wasn't much depth in this novel, but the lack of depth didn't bother me at all. The author exhibited a genuine enthusiasm towards his story, so I couldn't help but like the story. I think that many readers will notice that the author seems to love storytelling, because he fluently drives the story forward and keeps the action going strong.

In my opinion Jacob Tate is a talented indie author. I look forward to reading the second novel, because it'll be interesting to see what happens next to Max and what kind of touble he gets into while investigating new paranormal phenomena. I have a feeling that the sequel will be an even better and more enjoyable novel that this one.

Max Cutter and The First Black Book is a fast-paced novel with plenty of humour and witty comments and references to popular culture. It's a fast read and it offers lots of fun for readers who are interested in humorous urban fantasy novels and adventure stories. I can recommend this novel to everybody who enjoyes reading urban fantasy and fast-paced stories.

I give this novel strong four stars, because it's a good and a bit different kind of an urban fantasy novel. It was nice to read this novel, because it differed from other similar novels (the author had managed to create a thrilling story that kept me glued to the novel).

My final words are: Max Cutter and The First Black Book is an excellent, fast-paced and action-packed novel!


Unwrapped Sky
Unwrapped Sky
by Rjurik Davidson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.79

5.0 out of 5 stars A debut fantasy novel that sparkles with creativity and originality, 25 May 2014
This review is from: Unwrapped Sky (Hardcover)
Unwrapped Sky is Rjurik Davidson's debut novel. It's an impressive, satisfyingly complex and beautifully written new weirdish fantasy novel that invites comparison with China Miéville's Bas-Lag novels and Anthony Huso's new weird duology (The Last Page and Black Bottle).

Unwrapped Sky is a stunningly original, ambitious and unique combination of fantasy, dark fantasy and steampunk elements. This debut novel casts a long shadow and many new fantasy novels fall under its shadow, because only a few of them are equal to it in style and quality. In this novel, the author pushes the limits of imagination to all the right directions and never loses sight of what's important and fluently drives the story towards a satisfying conclusion.

In my honest opinion Unwrapped Sky is a feast of imagination. It's an unputdownable fantasy novel that has a fascinatingly dark and beautifully grotesque storyline that's full of beauty, terror and weirdness. I think it's good to mention that everybody who has read the author's short story collection, The Library of Forgotten Books, will notice that Unwrapped Sky is tied to the Caeli-Amur stories found in it. It's a continuation of "The Passing of the Minotaurs", which tells about the philosopher-assassin Kata.

This novel intoduces readers to a fantasy world filled with ancient wonders and modern horrors. The following things are just a few examples of what readers can find in this novel: Minotaurs, a cruel political system, a city submerged beneath the sea, philosopher-assassins, dangerous magic (thaumaturgy), captured Sirens that are forced to perform at the opera, strikes that are ended with thaumaturgists who control the Furies from the Other Side, tramworker gladiators, bizarre creatures under the mountains, ancient machines, transformations, hideways, political intrigue, betrayal, love and obsession.

The amount of different elements found inside the covers of this novel is simply amazing, but all the elements are connected to each other and create a coherent and powerful vision of a magical world where light and beauty are heavily balanced by darkness and terror. This novel is one of the few fantasy novels in which disturbing happenings and wondrous happenings support each other and awake the reader's interest in them.

Unwrapped Sky is a beautifully told story about a revolution and change that is coming slowly - but inevitably - to an ancient city called Caeli-Amur. Rjurik Davidson has created a uniquely original vision of a society on the verge of total collapse. The collapse of the society is seen through the varying perspectives of three different characters (Kata, Boris and Maximilian).

The coming revolution is slightly reminiscent of the French Revolution, because the workers are oppressed by the wealthy Houses. The author paints a vivid image of the workers' situation and offers glimpses into the lives of people who have no power against the ruling Houses, but who dream of peace and equality. He writes fluently about the seditionists and how they try to change things for the better, but are aware that change isn't easy and may even cost their lives.

Rjurik Davidson writes beautifully about the ancient Caeli-Amur. Caeli-Amur is a city in which many wonders and horrors exist side by side, and where powerful people oppress those who have no power. A powerful cataclysm changed Caeli-Amur and destroyed the ancients. After the cataclysm many things have been different, because the ground shifted and ancient wonders were buried beneath the surface.

Three Houses - House Arbor, House Marin and House Technis - hold power in Caeli-Amur. These three Houses rule people and evoke fear with their thaumaturgists. The workers aren't happy with the Houses, because they want improvements and more safety to their working conditions. Because the workers have to use the dangerous thaumaturgical magic in their work, they risk their lives and sanity on daily basis. Thaumaturgy affects their bodies and minds in a horrifying way (workers can see dark visions etc). Although the workers want changes and don't want to risk their lives anymore, the Houses aren't willing to do anything to improve the workers' conditions, because they're satisfied by maintaining the status quo.

The three Houses - House Arbor, House Marin and House Technis - are controlled by the creepy Elo-Talern that stay hidden and are rarely seen by the citizens. The Elo-Talern watch the city and people fear them because of their magical powers. The Elo-Talern seem to have lost interest in the Houses and their actions, but recently they've been more active and have once again shown interest in the Houses.

The characterization is excellent in this novel. The richly drawn and three-dimensional characters have their own traits, feelings, needs and ambitions that define them. The three protagonists are called Kata, Boris and Maximilian. The author writes about the happening from their perspectives and shows what each of them thinks about what's going on and how they feel about what will happen when the revolution is carried out by the seditionists.

Maximilian is an enthusiastic liberator, Boris is a power-hungry officiate filled with contradiction and Kata is caught in the middle: Maximilian wants to unlock the secrets of the Great Library of Caeli Enas; Boris is an ambitious bureaucrat whose rise to power has been harmful to his private life; and Kata has to balance between what's right and what's wrong.

What makes each of these protagonists interesting is that they're all flawed. The author makes his readers understand his protagonists and their actions, because they've experienced many things that have shaped them and their way of looking at life. Because a revolution is coming, the protagonists come into conflict and their fates are decided by their actions. I'm not going to reveal what happens to them, but I can mention that not all of them will survive.

Here's more information about the protagonists:

Kata: Kata is a former street orphan and has been trained as a philosopher-assassin. She learned from her dying mother to do whatever she must to survive. Kata has fits and needs medicine for her disease. She works for House Technis. She's in debt and needs to kill two minotaurs to get rid of her debts. When she becomes involved with the seditionists her life begins to change.

Boris: Boris is a bureaucrat. He's a subofficiate and a former tramworker. His daughter, Saidra, dances and sings at the opera. Boris works for House Technis and begins to get more power. Boris is asked to improve the conditions for tramworkers, but he isn't exactly willing to put his the needs of the others ahead of his own needs. One of the mysterious Elo-Talern, Elo-Drusa, is interested in him. Boris is fascinated and obsessed by Paxaea, the Siren, that has been captured and forced to perform at the opera. He does horrible things.

Maximilian: Maximilian is an idealistic revolutionary who has his own visions of revolution. He's a seditionist who dreams of studying the dangerous arts of thaumaturgy and changing things. He wants to create an army of liberation-thaumaturgists to set things right and end the oppression. Because almost all knowledge of thaumaturgy is hidden away in the House libraries and much of the knowledge lies under the ocean in Caeli-Enas and its Great Library, Maximilian dreams of reaching the Library and learning its secrets.

Character interaction is realistic and works well in this novel. Rjurik Davidson writes fluently about the relationship between Boris and Paxaea (and also about the relationship between Boris and his daughter, Saidra). Because Boris is obsessed with Paxaea, his obsession clouds his thinking and makes him act in a rash way and Paxaea is the victim of his behaviour (Paxaea is passive, but Boris is active and enthusiastic in a disturbing way). The author also writes well about what happens between Kata and Maximilian, because they're both different kind of persons who react differently to emotions. Both of them have kept their feelings hidden and have concentrated on other things.

The magic system (thaumaturgy) used in this novel is truly a fascinating magic system (it plays an important role in the story). Thaumaturgists touch the Other Side and are aware that contact with it is extremely dangerous. Technology also plays an important role in the story, because the citizens of Caeli-Amur use techonology and ancient machines can be found under the city. Reading about the ancient machines was intriguing for me.

Rjurik Davidson writes believably and realistically about what happens among the seditionists and inside the House Technis. The philosophical discussions about the society and the Houses are interesting and reveal what kind of thoughts people have about the society, its structure and the current state of things. The author writes perfectly about the state of the society and the plight of the oppressed workers.

The prose is excellent and nuanced. I've liked the author's prose ever since I read The Library of Forgotten Books, which contained four Caeli-Amur stories, but I have to mention that I like his prose even more now, because his writing style has developed over the years and now he writes in a more fluent and confident way than before. The author's lush descriptions of the characters and the city (and its different areas) are vivid and breath-takingly beautiful.

I've always enjoyed reading fantasy novels that offer food for thoughts, so I enjoyed reading Unwrapped Sky. This novel makes readers think why the characters do what they do and why they act the way they act. It raises such questions as "Why is the revolution necessary?", "Who benefits from the revolution?", "How will things change when the revolution ends?", "How will the revolution affect the seditionists and the Houses?" and "What will happen to the protagonists?".

I know that there are readers out there who aren't familiar with new weirdish fantasy or tend to avoid it. I'm also aware that there may be readers out there who aren't willing to read complex and imaginative stories that have plenty of depth in them, because they want almost instant action and battles from their novels. I sincerely hope that both readerships would forget their prejudices and read this novel, because it's a quality novel.

In my opinion Unwrapped Sky should be read by all who enjoy reading good and imaginative fantasy, because it's something different and offers intelligent entertainment for speculative fiction readers. There are too many mediocre fantasy novels out there on the market that tend to recycle the same plots over and over again, so original and thought-provoking novels like Unwrapped Sky are much needed novels, because they remind us of the fact that fantasy novels can offer deep and intelligent entertainment for speculative fiction readers.

I loved Rjurik Davidson's sense of style and use of imagination in this novel. He combines mythology, politics and fantasy in such a brilliant and evocative way that it's difficult not to be impressed by his use of different elements. It was easy for me to see that the author had used plenty of time to create the world and loved what he had created. He takes his time to build the characters and the world, and avoids easy decisions. He trusts that his readers are capable of analyzing things and have an ability to absorb information that is revealed to them as the story progresses.

I have to mention that I especially enjoyed reading about the Elo-Talern, because the author wrote fascinatingly about them. They could've easily come from the dark imagination of H. P. Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith. They were fascinating beings who had decaying features and awakened fear in people.

I also have to mention that Caeli-Amur's sister city, Caeli-Enas, is one of the most fascinating places described in this novel. Caeli-Enas is deep beneath the ocean and its Great Library can't be reached by anybody, but it can be seen through the crystal water on clear and calm nights. Sea serpents wander through its streets.

Unwrapped Sky can be read as a standalone novel, because the author wraps things up nicely at the end, but leaves plenty of room for the sequel. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Stars Askew, which will be published next year, because I want to find out what happens next.

I highly recommend this novel to readers who want quality from their fantasy novels, because it's an excellent and absorbing novel. I especially recommend it to readers who have read China Miéville, Felix Gilman, Mark Charan Newton and Anthony Huso. I think that it will also be of interest to readers who have read Martha Wells' Ile-Rien novels, because there's something in its fantasy world that's slightly reminiscent of the world described in the Ile-Rien novels. It's possible that readers of Gene Wolfe will also find this novel interesting, because there are a few elements that will appeal to readers who enjoy reading his novels and stories.

Unwrapped Sky is one of those fantasy novels that remind us why reading fantasy can be rewarding and why we should read it. It's a fantastical and atmospheric voyage through new weirdish landscapes and exotic locales. The story is full of mythology, politicial intrigue, magic, steampunk, ancient secrets and richly drawn characters.

There's so much that I could write about this novel, but I think it's time for me wrap things up and write the final paragraph of this review.

Unwrapped Sky is without a doubt the best debut fantasy novel of the year, because it surpasses many other novels in terms of depth, complexity, storytelling and originality. To be honest, Unwrapped Sky is one of the best and most original fantasy novels I've read to date. It's an impressive achievement, because it's a refreshingly different kind of a fantasy novel. Its wonderfully new weirdish atmosphere will leave readers holding their breath and wanting more. With this novel Rjurik Davidson proves that he is the new master of new weirdish fantasy that sparkles with creativity and originality.

Very highly recommended!


Path of the Dead (Hungry Ghosts)
Path of the Dead (Hungry Ghosts)
Price: 1.82

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and a bit different kind of a zombie novel, 8 May 2014
Timothy Baker's Path of the Dead is the first part of the Hungry Ghosts series. This novel contains both horror and dark fantasy elements and can easily be categorized as a horror novel that contains dark fantasy elements.

Path of the Dead was a pleasant surprise for me, because it differed from most horror novels in terms of its use of Buddhism in the storyline. Elements belonging to Buddhism can be found in several speculative fiction novels, but they're seldom found in horror fiction. It's easy to see that the author is interested in Buddhism and Buddhist way of life, because he writes fluently about them.

Considering the huge amount of zombie stories and novels published during the last couple of years it's actually amazing that it's still possible to find interesting novels like Path of the Dead that differ from other zombie novels. I think that Path of the Dead could've easily been just another zombie apocalypse novel, but it's not. Timothy Baker has created a story that's both entertaining and well written. The author uses well-known zombie elements in this novel, but reading about them never feels annoying, because they're used well.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

At the beginning of the story Dorje, the hermit monk of the Seche La Mountain, sees a pleasant dream that turns into a nightmare. He knows in his dream that a realm above Hell has come to Earth, the home of the preta, the land of the hungry ghosts... The village of Dagz is near the foot of the mountain and the Bathing Festival (the Festival of the Medicine King) will soon draw visitors to Dagz from nearby villages... Chodren, a young boy, visits the resting place of his dead sister and witnesses her rising and coming back to life... Soon five different kind of people come together and have to fight for their lives against the hungry undead...

The story takes place in the Tibetan countryside. The author writes surprisingly well about the surroundings, Tibetan culture and life in the village. His descriptions are vivid and believable.

The cast of characters is diverse and interesting. The author also wrote well about the characters' thoughts and what they felt about the happenings.

Here's information the characters:

- Dorje Cetan is a Shaolin-trained hermit monk of Seche La Mountain. He has a gift for dreams.

- Chodren Dawa is a ten year old boy.

- Lama Tenzin is an old monk who arrives at the village of Dagz.

- Gu-lang Janyang is a silent warrior nun (Ldab Ldob) and Lama Tenzin's bodyguard.

- Cheung is a Chinese soldier. He's the driver and escort of Lama Tenzin.

The cultural descriptions and differences intrigued me very much. The differences between the Tibetan men and the Chinese soldier were handled fluently. In my opinion the author wrote well about the cultural differences.

There are several good and interesting scenes in this novel. For example, the discussion about soda pop was interesting, because Chodren had never tasted it. I enjoyed reading about Dorje and Chodren, because both characters felt realistic. It was especially interesting for me to read about Chodren, because he was a young boy who had to grow up. I think that all readers will be interested in reading about his life and what he had to endure.

I have to mention that I've always enjoyed reading about the survivors of zombie apocalypse, because it's fascinating to see what people do under difficult circumstances and how they get along with each other. In this novel Timothy Baker pays enough attention to the survivors and their lives, but doesn't overdo anything, which is very nice. The character interaction is surprisingly fluent.

One of the best things about this novel is the atmosphere the author has created. The author writes believably about the woods and desolate Tibetan mountains and monasteries. His descriptions are effortless and they evoke vivid images in the reader's mind.

Based on this novel I can say that Timothy Baker seems to be a good author and is capable of writing a bit different kind of dark fantasy and horror. I look forward to reading the second part, because this novel was good.

Path of the Dead offers good and impressive - not to mention intelligent - dark fantasy and horror entertainment to speculative fiction readers. It's a rare zombie novel, because it contains Buddhism and descriptions of the Buddhist way of life. This novel will be of interest to everybody who enjoyes reading good horror entertainment.

Good entertainment for dark fantasy and horror readers!


Spanners - The Fountain of Youth
Spanners - The Fountain of Youth
Price: 3.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Good and exciting sci-fi entertainment, 6 May 2014
Because I enjoyed reading Jonathan Maas' first novel, Hellenica - City of gods, it was interesting for me to read his second novel, Spanners - The Fountain of Youth. In my opinion Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a surprisingly original and enjoyable novel, because the author uses the legend of the Fountain of Youth as a basis for his story.

It's easy to see that Jonathan Maas likes writing and storytelling, because Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a fast-paced novel that's pure entertainment from start to finish. His approach to science fiction feels refreshingly different, because he has created something new by combining modern science fiction with old legends. He also uses a few dark fantasy elements that add an interesting flavour of darkness to the story.

I have to mention that certain elements in this novel reminded me of many well-known and popular superhero graphic novels and films (X-Men, The Fantastic Four etc). These elements also reminded me a bit of the Highlander films and their storylines. I think that fans of superhero graphic novels and films will be delighted to read this novel, because the author uses many superhero elements.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a novel for adult readers, because it contains dark happenings and violence. It's possible that young adult readers will also enjoy reading it, because the story is good and entertaining, but I recommend it to adult readers.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

Balthasar has gathered a group of young spanners, because only young ones can be recruited and will fight and die for the cause. He and his group are searching for their leader in the Florida swamp. Their leader has been locked in a casket for a long time. He's an immortal spanner called Captain Juan Ponce de León. He has found the Fountain of Youth and intends to use the Fountain's powers to his own needs... Adam Parr, an immortal spanner, has spent time in India. He visits the Sentinel Islands meets Diego, who is Juan Ponce de León's brother... This is the beginning of a thrilling and fast-paced science fiction story that's full of action and surprises.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is basically a story about saving the world and humans, but it's also a story about accepting who and what you are, because the characters have to deal with their choices and decisions. Because the characters are different from other humans, they live their lives in a different way and they make different decisions and choices.

Jonathan Maas has created an interesting and fascinating vision of beings who are called spanners. Spanners have a totally different kind of a life span than normal human beings. There are many different classes of spanners and each class has a unique lifespan that gives them unique powers. The author reveals new and intriguing things about different spanners, their classes and their powers as the story advances.

The cast of characters is as versatile as in the author's debut novel, which is very nice. I enjoyed reading about Adam, Balthasar, Juan, Phoe and Mayfly, because the author wrote about their lives in an interesting way and slowly revealed more things about them.

Here's a bit of information about some of the characters and their powers:

- Adam Parr is an immortal spanner and a detective, who's 8 000 years old. He has lived a long time and has experienced a lot.
- Adam's sister, Phoe, is a phoenix-class spanner. Phoenix-class spanners always come back to life when they die.
- Mayfly belongs to a class of spanners who easily attract girls. Mayfly-class spanners live only six months.
- Balthasar is Juan's steward. He's always served Juan and done what Juan wants him to do.
- Drayne is a scourge-class spanner. She takes lifespans away.
- Blur is a blur-class spanner. He lives his life at a different frequency.
- Cannon is a tweener-class spanner. He's stuck in puberty and has high levels of testosterone in him. This makes him incredibly powerful, but difficult to control.

I'll mention separately that the Fountain and the Surgeon are especially interesting characters. The Surgeon can modify the body in many ways and the Fountain has amazing powers that surpass the powers of other spanners. Both the Fountain and the Surgeon play an important part in the story.

It's interesting that immortal spanners can't be killed, but they can be buried alive. If an immortal spanner has enemies who wish to get rid of him/her, all they have to do is to bury him alive, because it's an efficient way to punish and deal with immortal spanners. At this moment I don't recall reading about this kind of burials and punishments in science fiction novels, but I remember seeing something similar used in one of the episodes in the British science fiction TV series Torchwood.

It was intriguing to read about the experiments conducted on different mayfy spanners, because they were collected and kept in the compounds. They were treated brutally and in an inhumane way. In my opinion the author writes about these things in a good and fluent way, because he doesn't dwell too much on them.

I can also mention that reading about the Wild Place was fascinating, because it's a place where spanners have fled or have been banished because of their actions. The spanners founds in this area differ greatly from other spanners in terms of behaviour and eccentricity.

One of the best thing about Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is that the author knows how to keep the story flowing all the time. There aren't any dull moments in it. Jonathan Maas writes surprisingly well about the action scenes and the fight between good and evil characters. The conflicts and fights between Adam's group and Balthasar's group are handled well, because both groups have their own goals and will do almost anything to achieve what they want - Adam tries to save the world with his friends, but Balthasar helps his leader, Juan, to destroy the world as we know it.

The best thing about this novel is that there are many different spanners in it. I enjoyed the story very much, because reading about the different spanners was exciting and entertaining. I've always enjoyed reading about beings who are different from normal human beings and have powers that others don't have. I have to admit that the amount of different spanners mentioned in the story was a surprise for me, because normally authors tend to write about a limited number of different beings. Fortunately Jonathan Maas has had more enthusiasm, ambition and willingness to write about many different beings than other authors. If he had written about only a few different spanners, it would've significantly weakened the story.

The only noticeable fault that I found in this novel was that different places and areas weren't described in a detailed and lush way. Because I enjoy reading about lush and detailed descriptions, I missed them in this novel. Fortunately, in this case the lack of detailed descriptions isn't a bad thing, because too many descriptions might have ruined the story and would have probably added unnecessary length to it (there's so much going on in this novel that lush descriptions might not have worked in favour of the story).

This novel gives a new and interesting twist to the legend of the Fountain of Youth. It was fascinating to read about the history behind this legend and what Diego, Santos and Juan Ponce did in Florida. I've read a few speculative fiction versions of the legend of Fountain of Youth, but I have to say that this is probably the best and most original version I've read to date. By the way, another interesting version of legend of the Fountain of Youth can be found in The X-Files: episode 5X04, written by Frank Spotnitz.

Readers who enjoy reading this novel will be interested in knowing that there's also a film called Spanners - The Fountain of Youth (written and directed by Jonathan Maas). I have to admit that I'm intrigued about this film and consider watching it when it will be released, because I think that this story will work well as a film.

It's possible that this novel may split the readership to those who enjoy reading it and to those who don't like it, because different readers have different opinions about entertaining science fiction. I've noticed that there are readers who tend to regard entertaining novels as inferior literature, which is a shame, because entertaining novels like Spanners - The Fountain of Youth are good escapism (at times entertaining speculative fiction causes interesting reactions in readers). I personally enjoy reading this kind of entertaining science fiction and understand its entertainment values, because it's very relaxing to forget everything else for a while and read a good and exciting story.

Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is an entertaining combination of science fiction, old legends and a few noir elements. It will appeal to all readers who enjoy reading entertaining and fast-paced stories that are full of intriguing moments and surprises. It will also appeal to readers who are interested in superhero stories.

My final words are: Spanners - The Fountain of Youth is a fast-paced science fiction novel that offers good and exciting entertainment for readers. Good entertainment!


Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith: End of the Story v. 1
Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith: End of the Story v. 1
by Clark Ashton Smith
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and beautifully written stories for weird fiction and dark fantasy readers, 11 April 2014
Please note that this is a short review/essay about all the volumes in this series.

I was asked to write a short review of The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith: Volumes 1-5. This review is more of a short essay about these books and an introduction to the works of Clark Ashton Smith rather than an actual review about them.

Clark Ashton Smith probably needs no introduction to readers who are familiar with weird fiction, dark fantasy and horror. He's one of the best short story writers ever published, because he wrote beautiful and morbid prose, and his stories range all the way from fantasy to horror. His stories - along with the stories written by H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Algernon Blackwood and William Hope Hodgson - have become the cornerstones of weird fiction, dark fantasy and horror. Modern weird fiction and horror genres owe a huge debt to these old stories.

Although Clark Ashton Smith is a well known and highly respected author among readers of weird fiction and dark fantasy, he's unfortunately less known among readers who tend to read epic fantasy and modern dark fantasy/horror. This is a shame, because his stories contain beautiful, detailed and decadent prose (he had a unique eye for details and words).

It may be a bit difficult to find The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith: Volumes 1-5 now, because - if I'm not mistaken - they're currently out-of-print and haven't been republished. Fortunately certain volumes can still be found from second-hand bookshops and online bookshops.

Scott Connors and Ron Hilger have done an impressive job by gathering all the fantasy, science fiction and horror stories of Clark Ashton Smith into these five volumes. The stories in these volumes appeared in Weird Tales.

The story notes and alternate endings are interesting. The story notes offer insight to the stories and how they were created and published. It was interesting to read how the author had problems publishing certain stories, because they were considered to be - for one reason or another - unsuitable for the magazines that published strange tales and science fiction.

The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith consists of the following volumes:

1. The End of the Story
2. The Door to Saturn
3. A Vintage from Atlantis
4. The Maze of the Enchanter
5. The Last Hieroglyph

Because these volumes collect all the speculative fiction stories written by Clark Ashton Smith, they contain such stories well known and highly regarded stories as Genius Loci, The Abominations of Yondo, The Return of the Sorcerer, The Empire of the Necromancers, The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, The Tale of Satampra Zeiros, The City of the Singing Flame and The Last Incantation. Each of these stories is a masterpiece and should be read by all readers who enjoy reading beautifully written speculative fiction.

The above mentioned stories with the rest of the stories offer readers fascinating and unforgettable glimpses into fantastical, hallucinatory and phastamagorical worlds. His imaginary stories contain visions of doom, alien worlds, and gothic and grotesque elements that are difficult to forget. I dare say that once you let Smith's fantastical and otherwordly visions enter your mind, you're hopelessly hooked and want to read all of his stories.

As fans of Clark Ashton Smith already know, most of his weird fiction falls into four series set variously in Hyperborea, Averoigne, Poseidonis and Zothique.

The Hyperborean cycle is a series of stories by Clark Ashton Smith that take place in the fictional prehistoric setting of Hyperborea. The Hyperborean stories represent the author's greatest contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos (the non-anthropomorphic god Tsathoggua is featured in many of them). These stories include such stories as The Door to Saturn, The Tales of Satampra Zeiros and The White Sybil.

Averoigne is a fictional counterpart of a historical province in France (it's based on the actual province of Auvergne). These stories include such stories as The Best of Averoigne, The End of the Story and Mother of Toads.

Poseidonis is a richly imagined last remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis. These stories include such stories as The Last Incantation, A Vintage from Atlantis and The Death of Malygris.

The stories in the Zothique cycle tell of an imagined future continent (to be exact, it belongs to the Dying Earth subgenre of speculative fiction). These stories include such stories as The Dark Eidolon, The Last Hieroglyph, Necromancy in Naat, The Empire of the Necromancers and The Charnel God.

Clarks Ashton Smith has also written Mars stories (The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, Vulthoom and The Dweller in the Gulf are the best known Mars stories) and Xiccarph stories (The Flower-Women and The Maze of Maal-Dweb).

All the readers who read Clark Ashton Smith's stories will immediately notice how gorgeous, morbid and evocative the author's descriptions of the places and the happenings are, and how horrifying and mesmerizing the atmosphere is in many of his stories. In my opinion Clark Ashton Smith is one of the few authors who have an ability to awake feelings of fear, wonder and admiration in his readers.

It's possible that it may take a while for certain readers to get used to Clark Ashton Smith's prose and his decriptions of the happenings, but once you get used to them, you'll become a devoted fan. If you've never read Clark Ashton Smith and aren't familiar with literary weird fiction, it might be good idea start reading his stories by taking a look at The Return of the Sorcerer and other similar stories, which are accessible and easy to read stories. If you've read H. P. Lovecraft, I can mention that you're in for a real treat when you begin to read Clark Ashton Smith's stories. Some of his stories are similar to Lovecraft's stories, but there are stylistic differences.

Clark Ashton Smith's exotic, horrifying and unique stories have stood the test of time surprisingly well. There's a charmingly old-fashioned feel to certain stories, but none of the stories are bad or badly written. There's slight fluctuation in quality between the stories, but all of them are excellent stories.

I'm aware that there are readers who regard Clark Ashton Smith as a better writer than H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. I'm personally as fond of Smith's stories as I'm fond of Lovecraft and Howard's stories. I know that it's possible to place one of these authors above the others, but there's no need to do so, because each of them has written excellent and memorable stories. I think it's imperative to mention that these authors shared a few ideas, but each of them had their own distinct writing style.

If there are readers out there who wonder why they should read these five volumes, I give these readers three good reasons to read these volumes:

1. Clark Ashton Smith is one of the best weird fiction writers and his stories should be read by as many readers as possible.

2. Many modern authors have been influenced by Clark Ashton Smith's stories. It's possible to say that Clark Ashton Smith - along with H. P. Lovecraft - has had a huge impact on the weird fiction, dark fantasy and horror genres.

3. If you call yourself a devoted fan of weird fiction, it's important to be familiar with all the stories written by Clark Ashton Smith.

I could write a lot about the stories in these volumes, but many things have already been written about them, so I won't repeat what has already been said by others. I'll end this short review/essay with the following paragraph:

If you've never read anything by Clark Ashton Smith, please do yourself a big favour and read his stories. These five volumes contain many stories, which have become classic stories and deserve to be read by old fans and newcomers. These five volumes are essential volumes for all readers who love weird fiction and dark fantasy.

Very highly recommended!


Cursed Children of Naor
Cursed Children of Naor
Price: 3.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and thrilling escapism for fantasy readers, 9 April 2014
Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's Cursed Children of Naor is the third Naor book published in English. The previous books are Dark Children of Naor and Evil Children of Naor. Just like the previous books, this book consists of three novellas (A Son of the Wolf Pack, Shroud of the Past and Dragon's Race).

I was very impressed by Cursed Children of Naor, because it was just as good as the previous books and the stories in it were excellent. This book is one of those rare books that can be called irresistibly absorbing and enchanting, because the stories pull the reader into a magical fantasy world of Naor that is inhabited by noblemen, noblewomen, hunters and strange creatures etc.

Just like the previous books, Cursed Children of Naor can be categorized as traditional and epic fantasy that contains dark fantasy elements. I love the dark fantasy elements in this book, because they add a lot of charm, style and depth to the stories.

The stories in this book are epic, magical, horrifying and compelling. I'm sure that they will be of interest to readers who love good and well written fantasy stories. They will also be of interest to readers who read dark fantasy and horror, because they contain intriguing dark fantasy elements.

Here's a bit of information about the contents of this book:

The 1st story: A Son of the Wolf Pack

- Girdion is a nobleman. He is the youngest of the duke's sons and is seeking his fortune in the harsh lands of the far north. He has become wealthy because of his expeditions to the north.
- Girdion is with a group of men in the north. A werewolf attacks the hunters and causes problems to them. They're able to escape, but when they travel onward, Girdion notices that a werewolf is following them...

The 2nd story: Shroud of the Past

- At the beginning of the story Princess Sekanri receives bad news from the soothsayer Meiliadr.
- Princess Neisame is travelling to her new home. During the journey she sees a spectrum and something bad happens.
- Aneasain, a woman with elven blood in her veins, works for the queen and protects her against evil, but also travels to other areas when needed. The queens has sent her to investigate what has happened...

The 3rd story: Dragon's Race

- Angaru wanders in the desert. The land around Angaru is a barren and dangerous land.
- Angaru meets Ouhi'Mahr who tells him of the dragon.
- Soon Angaru learns more about himself and his destiny...

Each of these stories is a tale about the battle between good and evil. Each story tells a different tale, but in each of them the characters come face to face with the powers of evil. These stories are loosely connected to each other, but they all take place in the world of Naor.

I have to admit that I admire Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's ability to write well about the characters. Her characters have plenty of depth in them. Each of the characters is fascinating in his/hew own way, because they have their own feelings and motives that make them act in different - and at times unpredictable - ways.

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio has created characters that are refreshingly different when compared to the characters found in many other fantasy stories. Although she writes about noblemen and princesses, her approach to these characters differs from mainstream fantasy approach in a noticeable yet gentle way. She writes vividly about the characters and every once in a while surprises her readers by revealing something intriguing about them.

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio has her own kind of writing style and she isn't afraid of writing complex stories. She knows how to create and write stories that hook the readers from the start so that the readers have no other choice but to read the stories as fast as possible. She creates tension and excitement with an expert's touch and hooks the readers with the mysterious and dark happenings.

Fantasy stories can often be a bit predictable, but there's nothing predictable in these stories. These stories are quality stories, because the author has taken care not to repeat well known clichés that plague many other stories (her stories are original and free of typical clichés).

When I read this book (and the other books), I thought to myself that there's something about Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's writing that reminds of the fantasy stories written by Robert E. Howard. She has a similar kind of way of adding surprising and shocking elements to her stories as Robert E. Howard. Although these stories contain similarities to Howard's stories, they're different from them, because the author has created an original fantasy world with its own history, laws and mythology.

There are so many small details in these stories that the reader can't help but be impressed by them. The author has clearly spent much time writing and polishing these stories, because they're full of details that add depth to the world and the happenings.

One of the best things about this book is that the author gradually reveals secrets about her fantasy world to the readers (each story reveals something new about the world of Naor to the readers). The author also handles cultural differences amazingly well, and she writes as fluently about magic as she writes about politics. It takes lots of talent to master this kind of storytelling (there aren't many authors who are as adept at it as Justyna Plichta-Jendzio).

The author writes fascinatingly about different beasts and creatures. In my opinion she writes fantastically about werewolves, dragons, harpies and spectrums. She seems to have a passion for writing about them, because it's easy to see how passionately she writes about them and their doings.

I also have to mention that I enjoyed reading about how the author described what happened in the north, because her descriptions about the happenings were totally believable. She wrote realistically about the time spent in the wilds and how the men took care of themselves against dark forces.

I also enjoyed reading about the scorching desert sun and the burning desert in the last story, because the author wrote vividly about the barren and harsh landscapes. She has created an exotic desert that's full of danger and harshness to travellers.

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's way of writing about the werewolf attacks in the first story was perfect. She wrote wonderfully about the frenzy of the attacks and the men's fight against the beasts. She evoked images of the men's fear and determination in the reader's mind by writing about the attacks in a descriptive and realistic way.

The dialogues in these stories are surprisingly good and intriguing, and there's even a bit of humour in them every once in a while. All the dialogues feel natural and the interaction between different characters and creatures works perfectly.

It's good to mention that Justyna Plichta-Jendzio writes well about sex and sexual material. She writes about sex in a sensual, passionate and explicit way. It's nice that she knows how to use sexual material in a good way.

I think it's great that the author has added mythological elements to her stories. Experienced readers will easily notice that folklore and different legends have affected her writing style, because she fluently combines different mysterious and mythological elements in her stories.

Before I finish writing this review I have to mention that cover art by Richard Yalowy looks beautiful. The artist has painted a beautiful and sensually erotic cover image.

Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's Naor books are hidden treasures that await to be found by fantasy readers. If there's any justice in the world, Justyna Plichta-Jendzio's books will become popular and many people will read them, because they're worth reading. Her fantasy stories are impressive, because they're well written, addictive and unpredictable stories that offer plenty of entertainment to the readers.

If you're looking for new and interesting fantasy books to read, please do yourself a favour and read this book and the other Naor books, because they're excellent books. These books are entertaining and thrilling escapism for fantasy readers.

Excellent, fascinating and entertaining fantasy for adults!


The Ten Thousand Things (Dead West Book 2)
The Ten Thousand Things (Dead West Book 2)
Price: 1.21

4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and exciting weird western novel, 3 April 2014
The Ten Thousand Things is the second part of the Dead West series. It's an excellent and entertaining sequel to Those Poor, Poor Bastards.

I have to admit that I'm difficult to please when it comes to western novels, but weird western novels are my kind of novels. In my opinion The Ten Thousand Things is - just like Those Poor, Poor Bastards - an excellent example of a good and entertaining weird western novel, because the authors know how to entertain their readers. To be honest, I was impressed by this novel, because it turned out to be an even better novel than its predecessor.

Before I begin to analyze the contents of this novel, it's good to mention that it's recommendable to read Those Poor, Poor Bastards before reading this novel. In my opinion knowledge of the previous happenings is essential in order to fully understand what happens in this novel.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

In The Ten Thousand Things Nina Weaver and the people with her are riding the rails and fight against Liao Xu's zombies. Liao Xu is responsible for unleashing the horde of the deaduns and other creatures against them. He relentlessly pursues them, because he wants something from them...

The Ten Thousand Things differs a bit from the first novel, because it brings more depth to the story. The first novel introduced the characters to the readers and now the authors begin to add depth and more details to the story and to the characters. For example, the authors reveal a few interesting things about Liao Xu and his past, and Nina begins to accept her abilities and experiences sexual awakening. The authors also tell what happened to James' family.

Nina is a fascinating heroine, because she's almost like a female version of the male western heroes and rogues played by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and other famous actors. Although she's a fighter and survivor, she's much more than that, because she has strange abilities that separate her from others. She has a spiritual connection to the People and the Land. She has slowly begun to change inside, because she hears the sounds of the People, their drums and flutes, and their whispers. The realization of this change rattles her, because she has to accept the changes.

There are several excellent and thrilling scenes in this novel. For example, the attack of the birds is an impressive scene. Reading about Liao Xu's demon train is also memorable, because it adds a wonderfully otherwordly atmosphere and a malicious supernatural threat to the storyline.

The prose in The Ten Thousand Things is surprisingly good (in the first novel the prose was good, but now it's even better). The authors have found the right kind of rhythm and that they use to move the happenings forward. The pacing is also much better in this novel, because the story feels more balanced than before.

One of the best things about this novel (and its predecessor) is that it's genuinely interesting to read about how Nina and the other survivors get along with each other. The authors have managed to write about this aspect of their survival in a surprisingly realistic way.

The authors write boldly about sex and things related to sex. I won't reveal what happens in the story, but there's an explicit and passionate sex scene in the middle of the novel that has been written well.

It's nice that there's also a bit of humour in the story. For example, the scene in which one of the characters has to drop his pants is a funny scene. I think it'll amuse several readers.

Because I'm a Finn, I have to mention that it was interesting that the authors used one Finnish word and a few Swedish words in the story. These words surprised me, because I didn't expect to find Finnish and Swedish words in a weird western novel.

It's possible that there are readers out there who think that this series is only about a fight against zombies. I can say to these readers that they're wrong, because the authors have created a story that tells of an epic and desperate fight between good and evil. There are - of course - plenty of zombies in this series, but there's much more to the story than them, because the fight between good and evil is the core of the story.

Tim Marquitz, J. M. Martin and Kenny Soward have written an exciting and gory tale that will please fans of zombie stories and weird western novels. I'm sure that the viewers of The Walking and Hell on Wheels will also love The Ten Thousand Things, because this novel is almost like a combination of The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels.

If you're interested in zombie stories and weird western novels, The Ten Thousand Things is the novel to read, because the authors deliver a fantastically gory and entertaining story that's full of action. If you like zombie stories, please take a look at this novel, because it's an enjoyable novel.

My final words are: This novel is good and exciting entertainment!


Hollow World
Hollow World
Price: 1.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and entertaining old-fashioned science fiction!, 1 April 2014
This review is from: Hollow World (Kindle Edition)
Because I enjoyed reading Michael J. Sullivan's fantasy novels (the Riyria novels), I'm glad that I had a chance to read and review his forthcoming science fiction novel, Hollow World. I can say that it was a pleasure to read this novel, because it was well written entertainment.

Hollow World is an interesting and entertaining science fiction novel that differs quite a lot from other new sci-fi novels. It's a well written and charmingly old-fashioned story with a strongly beating heart at its core. It's a fascinating novel for readers who are interested in classic and modern stories about time travel.

I think that the best way to categorize this novel is to say that it's a time travel novel. It can also be called social science fiction, because the author writes in vivid details about the changes in the society and how humans have changed and developed.

Before I write more about this novel, here's information about the story:

Hollow World is a story about Ellis Rogers. He is dying and has less than a year to live (he has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which can't be cured). He builds a time machine in his garage. When Ellis starts the time machine, he ends up in the year 4078. A lot has changed in the future. Everything he knew seems to have gone and things have changed. The whole world has changed and so have the humans: humans live underground in the Hollow World, falselight works as a sun, religions have disappeared, there aren't any diseases anymore, humans don't have any sexes anymore etc. When Ellis arrives to the future, he almost immediately witnesses a murder and meets Pax...

As you probably noticed by reading this brief synopsis, there isn't exactly anything new in this novel, but that isn't the point of this novel. In my opinion the point of the novel is that the author explores the difference between our society and the future society, and by doing this he makes us think about morality, our lives and our humanity.

Although several authors have already written about what happens to a person when he travels to distant past or to distant future, Michael J. Sullivan's approach feels delightfully humane and touching. The biggest reason for this lies in the author's excellent characterization. The protagonist, Ellis, is a man who has a past and that past has affected him, because the hardships and experiences that he has experienced have molded him. The author manages to make Ellis a realistic character by writing about his life, problems and incurable disease. I think it's great that he wrote easily about the protagonist's disease and his feelings about it and avoided being too sentimental with his descriptions.

The author writes well about Pax and his life. I enjoyed reading about him and his compassionate nature. As he guided Ellis through the Hollow World and told him things about the world and their society, the author revealed significant details about him and his views about the happenings. It was great to read about the friendship between Ellis and Pax. Together, they tried to find out who had murdered people and their search allowed them to get acquainted with each other. It was nice to read how they got to know each other and learned new things from each other.

Michael J. Sullivan explores difficult themes in this novel. He writes surpringly well about religion, sexuality and death. His vision of a society without religion and sexless human beings was fascinating. He writes about these themes in a pleasant style without being condescending. In my opinion he handled these themes admirably and was also capable of evoking an emotional response in the reader.

The author has created an interesting vision of the future of mankind and the planet. It was fascinating for me to read about how the author explored the human condition. The differences between our society and the future society allowed him to write thoughtfully about the human condition, because in the future humans have modifed themselves in several ways: they've changed themselves by purging their bodies of diseases etc. The author has created a society that is free of wars, violence and diseases. When I read this novel, I noticed that he shows his readers that if something has been forgotten or discarded, something new comes to take its place and society adapts to the changes.

One of the best things about this novel is that it makes its reader think about things. I think that everybody who reads this novel will think about the happenings and themes found inside its covers. It's almost impossible not to think about moral issues and the possible future of mankind after reading this novel.

Although this novel contains quite a lot of different elements and themes, Michael J. Sullivan doesn't lose track of the main story. It could've been easy to lose sight of what's going on and drown the reader in deep exploration about philosophy and morality, but fortunately that doesn't happen in this novel. The author drives the story fluently forward by writing about changes in the society and delivering thriller elements every once in a while to keep up readers' interest in the story.

This novel can be seen as a tribute to old time travel novels, especially to H. G. Well's classic science fiction novel, The Time Machine. When you read this novel, it's almost impossible not to think about The Time Machine. This novel is different from The Time Machine, because the author's vision of the future of mankind differs from Wells' vision, but there are similarities that are easily recognizable if you've read H. G. Wells. I found the similarities interesting, because I've always liked Well's novel and consider it to be one of the best time travel novels.

I have to mention that the cover art by Marc Simonetti looks stunningly beautiful (it's a gorgeous painting). It's great that this novel has a good cover image.

Hollow World is old-fashioned science fiction written in a modern way. I think that everybody who loves well written science fiction and time travel novels will want to read this novel, because it's a wonderfully old-fashioned sci-fi story. If you're familiar with the author's fantasy novels, you'll enjoy this novel too, because it's a good novel with excellent characterization.

My final words are: this novel is well written and entertaining old-fashioned science fiction!


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