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"Seregil of Rhiminee" (Finland)
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent entertainment for adult readers, 20 Dec 2013
This review is based on the Atria Books edition (2014).
M. K. Hume's The Bloody Cup is the culmination of The King Arthur Trilogy. Everything that has happened before has been almost like a prelude to the happenings in this novel. The Blood Cup ends the epic story of King Arthur in a brilliant way. It's powerful story that will be of interest to readers of historical fiction and speculative fiction. I think that everybody who likes good historical fiction will find this novel interesting.
Now that I've read the whole trilogy I can say that M. K. Hume has created a truly original and compelling vision of King Arthur, his life, his family and his deeds. There are several novels about King Arthur, but M. K. Hume's retelling of this famous legend is something different, because she stays true to her own vision.
The King Arthur Trilogy is a perfect example of good storytelling that tells a huge story arc from the humble beginning to the tragic end. The author has a gift for storytelling, because she has created a complex story arc that will fascinate, horrify and surprise the readers. Parts of the story arc were revealed in the two previous novels, but now the author gets to show how things end and how bitter and tragic the ending is for certain characters.
Here's information about the story:
- The first novel, Dragon's Child, told how King Arthur rose to power. The second novel, Warrior of the West, told about King Arthur's battle against the saxons and his doomed marriage to Wenhaver. This novel, The Bloody Cup, tells about King Arthur's later days and death.
- At the beginning of the novel traitors are preparing to take action so that Artor shall fall. The Cup of Bishop Lucius of Glastonbury will be the tool that they're going to use in their mission.
- Balyn and Balan, the grandchildren of Artor, come to Cadbury Tor. Morgan sees a powerful vision about a cup filled and overflowed with blood. Nimue sends her son, Taliesin, to Cadbury. Galahad's celibacy and opinions about religion and other things irritate his father, Gawayne. Gawayne and Galahad meet beautiful Miryll while they're travelling together. Modred arrives at Cadbury Tor...
Because several things happen in this novel and I want to avoid writing too many spoilers, I won't write more about the story. I'll only mention that the story is great and the author expertly moves it along.
The author writes well about old and familiar characters, but she also introduces new characters. The characters are interesting, because the author has created believable characters who have different problems. It's nice that she manages to make the reader care for the characters and their fates - depending on what happens to them, you'll either feel glad or sad for them and wonder what's going to happen to them.
Here's a bit of information about the familiar characters:
- Artor has aged, but he is still a handsome and respected king.
- Wenhaver, Artor's wife, is also older than before, but her behaviour hasn't changed. She behaves as badly and cruelly as before.
- Morgan is also still as malicious as ever and harbours a deep rooted hatred towards Artor.
- Nimue is alone, because her husband, Myrddion, has passed away. She hears voices in the wind.
- Bedwyr is getting married to Elayne.
And here's a bit of information about some of the new characters:
- Modred is an illegitimate son of Morgaus and a Brigante noble. He's come to Artor's court and causes problems.
- Miryll, the mistress of Saliane Minor, has an interesting role to play in the story and her fate is also interesting.
- Gronw, the man in Saliane Minor, is also a fascinating character, but I won't write much about him, because I might reveal too much information about the story, because he is an important character. I'll just mention that he is a spiritual adviser of Miryll.
- Taliesin is the son of Nimue and Myrddion. He travels to Artor's court and charms people with his singing and music.
The character interaction works well and the dialogues and thoughts of the characters are genuinely interesting. For example, it was interesting to read what Artor thought about Wenhaver and how others felt about her, because all seemed to think that Artor could've found a better wife for himself.
Reading about the marriage between Artor and Wenhaver was fascinating, because their marriage was anything but happy. Their marriage was as unhappy and furious as it could be, because both of them despised each other (their situation tormented them). The conversations between Artor and Wenhaver were fantastic and they reminded me a bit of the conversations in several new and brutal fantasy novels.
It was also enjoyable to read about the meeting between Artor and Morgan, because they didn't like each other very much. Her news were of great importance and it was fascinating to see her visit Cadbury Tor.
I enjoyed reading about the women in Artor's life, because each of them had a purpose in the great plan of things to come. The author writes fantastically about the female characters and their lives, because all of them have a role to play in this novel.
The threat to Artor's reign is handled exceptionally well. The author writes intriguingly about the opposers of Artor and their deeds. It was interesting to read to what lengths they went to get rid of Artor. For example, the attack to Glastonbury was a powerfully written scene.
The religious elements were also handled fluently. The author wrote fascinatingly about how people felt about Christianity and how some of them wanted to see the return of the old ways. I enjoyed reading about these things, because the clashes between old and new religions have always been of interest to me (it was especially enjoyable to read about Gronw and his thoughts about religion).
The ancient Cup of Bishop Lucius is an important item in this novel, because it is used as a tool to get rid of Artor and his reign. The author wrote surprisingly well about the cup and its history, because its history and signifigance was revealed gradually.
M. K. Hume writes boldly and fluently about lust, sex, sexuality. She writes about the needs of the characters and what they do with their sexuality in a compelling way. For example, reading about Gawayne and his thoughts about sex was interesting, because he didn't live in celibacy and enjoyed sex.
What makes this novel so intriguing is that it contains beauty, joy, hopefulness, sadness, despair, terror and grittiness in equal measures. Balancing between these things is difficult, but the author manages to do it and she does it well. I respect the author for having the courage to write about dark and grim happenings in an uncompromising way that reinforces the happenings. Her original - and often brutal - vision of the happenings is something different, and what's best, she knows how to keep the story interesting.
When the author writes about dark, bloody and gritty happenings, she does it in a brilliant way by writing openly about violence. Some of the scenes are shocking and violent, because she describes how heads are hacked off and how blood spurts out of the wounds etc. I think that everybody who likes dark fantasy, gritty adult fantasy and horror novels, will enjoy these scenes. These scenes will also appeal to readers who are used to readers gritty historical fiction.
There's a beautifully melancholy atmosphere in several scenes, because the characters are older and think about their lives and their deeds. The characters aren't as young as they were earlier and most of them have done things that they aren't proud of or feel remorse about what they've done, but have learned to live with their choices and the consequences of the choices. It's great that the characters feel the passing of time and acknowledge the fact that they shall soon pass away and only their heirs shall be left behind to take care of the kingdom.
I like it very much that M. K. Hume tells how the actions of the characters affect them and those near them. It's also good that she shows that some of the characters fear that they aren't strong enough to play their parts in what's about to happen. This added depth to the storyline.
One of the best things about this novel and the whole trilogy is that M. K. Hume doesn't sugarcoat the happenings. She shows how life was in ancient times and how people lived their lives. She dares to write boldly about brutal happenings and the evil that men do to each other. I loved the way she wrote the lives of the people and how they handled such things as love, death and betrayals. The detailed descriptions about these things were wonderful.
When I read this novel and the previous novel, I noticed that M. K. Hume seems to love storytelling. She writes passionately about the characters and the happenings, and does her best to deliver an entertaining story that will both entertain and surprise her readers. She pays quite a lot of attention to small details that are important in the great story arc.
Just like the previous novels, this novel contains only a few fantastical elements, because the author uses them sparingly. This is good, because these elements are intriguing when they're used this way. The visions that the characters see are fascinating (they add an interesting touch of fantasy to the storyline).
It's possible that there are readers who try to compare this trilogy to Bernard Cornwell's trilogy. In my opinion there's no need for comparison, because M. K. Hume's vision of the Arthurian legend differs quite a lot from Cornwell's vision. Considering how many novels have already been written about the Arthurian legend, it's amazing that M. K. Hume has managed to write a unique and fascinating Arthurian trilogy, which is fluently written entertainment from start to finish.
Before I write the final words of this review, I'll mention that there good maps in this novel. I'll also mention that I liked the cover art.
Because I enjoyed reading this trilogy, I'll try to read the author's Merlin trilogy in the near future. I've heard good things about it, so it'll go to my reading list. It'll be interesting to see what kind of a trilogy it is, because this trilogy is fantastic.
If you're interested in the Arthurian legend and historical happenings and like to read historical fiction, you should put this novel (and the other novels in this trilogy) to your reading list. M. K. Hume's vision of King Arthur is something different and the story is captivating. This novel is fascinating entertainment for everybody who enjoys reading historical fiction and historical fantasy. I'm sure that readers who begin to read this novel will be turning pages to find out what happens next and how the story ends.
Excellent entertainment for adult readers!
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good and interesting entertaiment, 17 Dec 2013
City of gods - Hellenica was a pleasant surprise for me. It surprised me with its originality, fast-paced story, and entertainment values. This kind of surprises are nice, because it's fun to read new and interesting books that differ from other books.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
This book is a story about four extraordinary persons: Kayana Marx, Gunnar Redstone, Tommy Alderon and Saoirse Frost. The world in which they live is divided into several areas that are ruled by different deities who satisfy their own needs and desires. There's an Academy in Hellenica, which is designed for the purpose of training young gods. Kayana, Gunnar, Tommy and Saoirse are taken to the Academy to be trained and they have to leave their old lives behind them. This is the beginning of an interesting and exciting story...
City of gods - Hellenica is a bit different kind of a fantasy book, because the author combines fantasy and science fiction elements. There are references to computers, science and other similar things throughout the book. This is intriguing, because normally fantasy authors tend to avoid writing about science or only briefly refer to it.
City of gods - Hellenica is one of those rare books that transcend the boundaries of adult fiction and young adult fiction - its characters will appeal to young adults and the story will fascinate adult readers. I think that several young adult readers will be thrilled to read this book and it will strike a chord among them. It's possible that readers who have become fascinated by ancient gods, myths and mythology by reading Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and other similar series/books will enjoy reading this book very much, because it's something different.
The cast of characters is versatile. I enjoyed reading about Kayana, Gunnar, Tommy and Saoirse, because the author wrote well about them and their backgrounds. At beginning of the story Kayana is in the hospital, because her touch kills people; Gunnar is a pit-fighter; Saoirse is taught to become one of the Hetaerae (a form of prostitute), and Tommy is a cripple who's on Lepros and sees how the sick are being taken care of. All of them were taken to Hellenica to be trained properly. They all differed from each other and had different powers.
I enjoyed reading about the training of Kayana, Gunnar, Tommy and Saoirse, because the author wrote intriguingly about their training and how they learnt things. They were taught to fight and control their powers at the Academy. They also had to learn to work together and trust each other.
It was especially interesting for me to read about Saoirse and her gift of talking to the animals, because I've always been fascinated by these kinds of gifts in fantasy and science fiction books. Another reason why I enjoyed reading about Saoirse is that she was considered to be the White Knight (the other Horsemen have clear abilities, but the White Knight's abilities and powers are more mysterious). This made her an especially interesting characters.
Jonathan Maas has imagined a fascinating world in this book, because he writes about a world which has been divided into different fiefdoms that are being ruled by ancient gods. The world is under constant warfare, because there are frictions between the different areas. This is an interesting premise for the story, because there aren't many fantasy authors who have created this kind of worlds.
The Academy is an important part of the world. Reading about it, its hallways and its secrets was interesting. In my opinion the author's vision of the Academy is intriguing, because its purpose is to train the new gods. He writes surprisingly vividly about this place. It was fun to read how the Horsemen explored the place during their training.
When I read this book, I thought to myself that the author must be interested in mythology and ancient deities, because he writes fluently about them. He seems to know quite a lot about the different deities, and he has an interesting way of writing about them. He writes about them in a modern and fresh way and avoids typical clichés. I have to mention that it was also fun to read about the Krakens, Banshees, Mermaids etc, because the author wrote surprisingly well about them.
I have to congratulate the author for writing an original fantasy book that contains sci-fi elements. Because I liked this book, I hope that the author will someday write more about the characters that appeared in the story. I got the impression that there's a lot more to reveal about the world and the fates of the characters, so hopefully there will someday be a sequel.
What I liked most about this book was that the author had written an original story and wrote about the Horsemen in an interesting way. I also liked the fast-paced story, because the author managed to keep things interesting for the reader by moving the plot fast forward. Although I liked the story, I have to mention that I would've liked to read more about the characters' lives before the Academy, because their backgrounds were interesting.
I think it's good to mention that there's a map at the beginning of the book. It's nice that the map is included in the book, because it helps the reader to see where the different areas are located and where the Academy is.
City of gods - Hellenica is good entertainment and I can recommend it to readers who enjoy reading fast-paced and entertaining books. This book can be recommended to both adults and young adults, because both readerships will enjoy reading it.
Good and interesting entertainment!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating dark fiction, 14 Dec 2013
J.R. Hamantaschen's You Shall Never Know Security is one of the best dark fiction collections ever published. It contains fascinating, disturbing and beautifully written stories that range all the way from dark fantasy to horror.
The last decade has been an exceptionally good decade for dark fiction, because several good authors have emerged and delighted dark fantasy and horror readers with their disturbing and unsettling stories. J.R. Hamantaschen is one of these good authors and I'm sure that several readers will agree with me when I say that he's very talented.
I have to say that I was very impressed by this collection, because it contains fine and elegantly written stories. The stories in this collection were my kind of fiction, because they were original and disturbing masterpieces of dark fiction. I've always been fascinated by the darker side of fantasy, horror and weird fiction, so these stories made a huge impression on me.
The stories in this collection may not be everybody's cup of tea, but I'm sure that everybody who likes good dark fiction will enjoy reading them.
Before I write more about the contents of You Shall Never Know Security, I think it's good to mention that I've noticed that there are several readers out there who have a bit erranous views about what is dark fiction and what is not. It's interesting that several readers think that when a story or a book contains certain elements (for example vampires, zombies or werewolves), it's automatically dark fiction. The truth is that these elements don't necessarily make a story or a book dark fiction, because real dark fiction is something totally else. Dark fiction is basically another name for horror fiction and encompasses dark fantasy and horror and all the possible sub-genres associated with them. In my opinion real dark fiction is the kind of fiction which disturbs you, makes you think about what you've read, challenges your views about the world and people, and frightens you. Dark fiction may contain violently and sexually graphical material, but it may also contain descriptions of mental illness and psychological horror. The truly sophisticated dark fiction is the kind of fiction that has an unsettling effect on you and you can't stop thinking about what you've read (this collection is this kind of dark fiction, because you simply can't forget what you've read).
You Shall Never Know Security contains the following stories:
- A Lower Power
- A Parasite Inside Your Brain
- Come In, Distraction
- Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
- Sorrow Has Its Natural End
- "Jordan, When Are You Going to Settle Down, Get Married and Have Us Some Children?"
- There Is a Family of Gnomes Behind My Walls, and I Swear I Won't Disappoint Them Any Longer
- There's Always Something in the Misfortune of Our Friends That Doesn't Displease Us
- There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere
Here's more information about some of the stories:
"A Lower Power" and "Wonder" are powerful short stories and they pave the way for other great stories. "Wonder" is one of the best and most memorable stories in this collection, because it's difficult to forget how the author writes about lost love. It's a wonderfully macabre and disturbing story.
"A Parasite Inside Your Brain" is a fascinating story about Caitlin who has an arachnid inside her brain. In this story the author writes interestingly about depression.
"Come In, Distraction" is another excellent story. I liked the way the author wrote about what had happened in England and how the people had changed horribly.
I'm sure that "Jordan, When Are You Going to Settle Down, Get Married and Have Us Some Children?" will linger on every reader's mind. It may not be to everybody's liking, but it's an unforgettably weird and twisted story that has pitch black humour in it.
"Truth Is Stanger than Fiction" is a fantastic story about Melias and the brutal murder she committed. In my opinion this story has interesting Lovecraftian elements in it.
"Sorrow Has Its Natural End" is a strong story about Max who's almost blind. The author writes intriguingly about how Max finds information about a man who's been cured of the same condition by using nanotechology particles. What follows is an unsettling story.
"There Is a Family of Gnomes Behind My Walls, and I Swear I Won't Disappoint Them Any Longer" is one of the best stories I've read this year. It's a fascinatingly quirky story. I'm not going to write about what happens in it, but I'll mention that it's an excellent story.
"There Must Be Lights Burning Brighter, Somewhere" is one of the best stories in this collection. It's a story about Alex who hides in a closet with two other persons. Something horrible has happened outside the closet and they try to survive by staying in the closet. It's amazing how well and captivatingly the author writes about Alex and his situation, because at first the happenings take place inside a closet. It takes quite a lot of skill to build tension when the characters are hiding in the closet, but the author succeeds in it and creates an atmospherical story that you won't easily forget.
At the beginning of this collection, the editors tell that the author has written the stories with time and hasn't hurried in the writing process. This can be seen in the quality of the stories, because each of them is beautifully written and there's real emotion (sadness, pain, loneliness etc) in them.
J.R. Hamantaschen has managed to bring lots of depth to his stories by writing about what the characters feel and what happens to them. I liked it very much that the author was able to write effortlessly about the characters and their feelings and managed to give them different personalities. The characters in these stories can almost be seen as Lovecraftian characters who are unable to resist temptation and feel drawn towards darkness and doom.
There's a wonderfully weird and unsettling atmosphere in all of these stories. The author is capable of creating an atmosphere that causes feelings of unease in the reader. His weird and macabre stories will linger on the reader's mind, because he manages to put ideas into the reader's head and makes the reader think about what's happening.
The author approaches weirdness in a modern way, which is very nice. He doesn't imitate anybody, but has his own distinct voice. What separates him from several other authors is that he writes about what kind of normal and disturbing thoughts go through the characters' minds. This kind of writing adds freshness and power to his stories.
J.R. Hamantaschen writes interestingly about things related to sex, sexuality and relationships. His approach to these things is refreshingly weird and also more than a bit twisted. For example, in "There's Always Something in the Misfortune of Our Friends That Doesn't Displease Us" he writes surprisingly well about elements related to sexuality (homosexuality etc) and relationships, and in "Endemic" he writes about difficult things in an unflinching way.
One of the reasons why You Shall Never Know Security is a great collection is the quality of the prose. I like the author's prose very much, because he writes excellent prose. His prose reminds me a bit of the prose by H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, Nathan Ballingrud, T.E.D. Klein and other masters of weird fiction and horror. He strips away the flesh of normal everyday life and reveals what kind of horrors lurk beneath the surface. He offers his readers disturbing visions and brilliantly imagined scenarios of twisted and extraordinary happenings.
I hope that J.R. Hamantaschen continues to write more stories, because he's a talented author. Because J.R. Hamantaschen is mostly known to readers who read underground horror, it would be nice if his stories were discovered by as many readers as possible. His stories deserve to be read, because they're good stories.
If you've read stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Nathan Ballingrud, Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Richard Gavin, T.E.D. Klein and other similar authors, you should put this collection to your reading list, because the stories in this collection are fascinating and a bit different kind of stories for fans of dark fiction. This collection may also be of interest to readers of D.P. Watt, Quentin S. Crisp and Brendan Connell.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent and imaginative speculative fiction!, 10 Dec 2013
Mike French's Convergence is the third novel of The Dandelion Trilogy (the other novels are The Ascent of Isaac Steward and Blue Friday). It is as interesting and fascinating as its predecessors.
Before I write more about Convergence, I'll mention that it can be read as a standalone novel. However, it's possible that readers will get more out of it if they're familiar with the previous novels.
Now that I've read all the novels in The Dandelion Trilogy, I can say that this trilogy has been a most pleasant surprise. It's a delightfully different and imaginative trilogy in which several different elements are combined in interesting and unexpected ways. The novels in this trilogy are well written and intelligent speculative fiction novels with just the right amount of tension to keep readers turning pages as fast as they can to find out what happens at the end of each novel.
Convergence is a surprisingly imaginative, disturbing, chilling, addictive and also humorous science fiction novel. Just like its predecessors, it's something different - it differs greatly from other speculative fiction novels that are out there on the market.
Convergence is an intriguing story about a future world where things are different from what they are now. For example, The Vatican is situated in Kent and Belgians have spaceships. The author's vision of the future is both refreshingly original and unsettling.
I won't write much about the plot of Convergence, because this novel is so extraordinarily written and full of twists and turns that I might write too many spoilers. The Convergence process described in the synopsis plays an important part in this novel (this process is used to gather information from people and terrorists) and its consequences also play an important part.
One part of the plot involves President Reagan and his lover, Batsheba. These chapters are wonderfully creative and satirical. I also enjoyed reading about Pete and Durram, because the author created a weird and compelling love story that's anything, but normal.
The cast of characters is diverse and quite extraordinary, because the author writes about President Reagan, the Pope and other characters. Reading about Reagan was funny (I think that all readers will enjoy reading about him). I have to mention that it's fascinating how captivatingly the author writes about the AI system called Covenant.
Mike French combines several elements from science and technology to religion and politics in this novel. It's intriguing how well and fluently he binds all these elements together, because it isn't easy to write this kind of speculative fiction. The author combines new techonology, clones, dreams, hopes, lust, sex, politics, religion and violence in a surprisingly exhilarating and uninhibited way. In less capable hands this kind of a unique combination of different elements might have been a total disaster, but Mike French has succeeded in combining all the elements perfectly and has created an exciting and addictive story.
I loved the way Mike French wrote about the end of the world. His way of writing about the problem that the project created was genuinely fascinating. The orb/sphere that the reasearchers were unable to control seemed to swallow and devour the world and a new eden formed inside it. This kind of an end of the world feels very refreshing when compared to other kind of visions of the end of the world.
I like the author's prose and writing style. It's great that he effortlessly combines science fiction and modern literary prose (I've always liked good literary prose, so it was a pleasure to read his prose). One of the best things about his prose is that at times he's deliciously sharp and sarcastic and surprises his readers with unexpected happenings.
Mike French has created a surprisingly complex story that opens up bit by bit. I appreciate this kind of storytelling, because it shows that the author knows that readers have brains and they're capable of using them to figure things out.
Mike French writes boldly about sex. His descriptions of sex are among the most memorable descriptions ever in modern science fiction, because he describes things as they are and doesn't try to write about sex in a vague way. There are other authors who have also written boldly about sex, but Mike French's approach to sex feels fresh.
It's nice that the author has a quirky and twisted sense of humour, because it adds a cool touch of satire to the story. His humour is sharp, but also sophisticated.
Convergence may not be to everybody's liking, but I don't see any reason why it should be, because truly fascinating and original novels rarely are to everybody's liking. This novel is a totally different kind of a science fiction novel and that's a good thing, because not every novel has to be an almost exact clone of other novels. I have nothing against normal science fiction novels, but a bit weirder and more challenging novels like Convergence are pearls among pebbles, because they require more attention from the reader. Reading this kind of novels is rewarding.
If you want to read something totally different, enjoy reading good prose and love imaginative science fiction, you should consider reading Convergence, because it's all of these things and more. It's a partly surreal, but fulfilling reading experience that leaves you wondering how the author has come up with a story that's satirical, surreal and imaginative.
Excellent and imaginative science fiction!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent fantasy entertainment and perfect escapism!, 5 Dec 2013
The Knight Marshal is the fifth book of The Silk & Steel Saga. It gloriously continues the story that started in The Steel Queen and then continued in The Flame Priest, The Skeleton King and The Poison Priestess.
The Silk & Steel Saga was originally supposed to have ended with the fifth book, but the author decided to make sure that her readers get the whole story, so she decided to write six books. In my opinion this is an excellent decision, because now the readers and fans of this series have a chance to read what happens to all of the characters without leaving anything out of the story.
In my opinion The Silk & Steel Saga is an amazing fantasy series, because it's a shamelessly entertaining series (the author knows how to entertain her readers with the epic story and intriguing plot twists). In my opinion the story just keeps on getting better and better with each new book. The Knight Marshal is Karen Azinger's best book so far, because it surpasses all the previous books. There's much more at stake in this book than there was before, because the war and the Mordant's plots threaten to drown the whole world into darkness and chaos.
In The Poison Priestess the author told what happened in the southern part of the world and in The Skeleton King she told what happened in the northern part of the world. Now, in this book, she writes about what happens in both places and how all the pieces are moving towards the Battle Immortal.
In case somebody has forgotten what happened in the two previous books, here's a bit of information about them:
In The Skeleton King war threatened the kingdoms of Erdhe. The Mordant continued to do evil things in Bryce's body and the monk's soul suffered in a horrifying way. He entered into his own domain and faced the Trials of Return, which made him the ruler of the Dark Citadel and gave him the right to sit on the Ebony Throne. The Knight Marshal and the king went to investigate what happened at Cragnoth Keep, and the king still refused to believe her daughter. The king started to prepare for the forthcoming war. Kath and her companions continued their journey beyond the Dragon Spine Mountains and faced problems on the steppes. This book ended in a heart-breaking way.
In The Poison Priestess the events took place in the southern part of Erdhe. Liandra fought a desperate fight to save her kingdom from the dangerous army of The Flame God. She also had to deal with things that were happening inside her own kingdom. She received visitors from a distant place and suffered a personal loss. Steffan waged a brutal holy war against Lanverness, because he wanted to take the throne away from Liandra. Stewart fought against Steffan's army. Jordan left the monastery and saw horrible visions. The Priestess did several horrifying things and met her relatives...
Here's a bit of information about this book (I'll try to avoid spoilers):
At the beginning Lord Askal witnesses horrifying happenings aboard his ship, because the Mordant is on his ship. Bryce has to witness the Mordant's deeds. The Mordant creates horrifying abominations with his dark magic. Kath has lost somebody she loved very much. The Citadel feels like a trap for Kath and her companions, because winter has arrived to north. Zith begins to explore the Mordan't treasure, because he intends to find magical items. The knight marshal leads kingless men and decides not to let the Octagon fail. Blaine experiences unexpected pleasures and also fear in the Citadel. He also begins to hunt priests and acolytes. Juliana gets a message from her sister, Jordan, while she's on a ship. The Priestess delights herself with the knowledge that she has left death in her wake, and she has new plans. Megan, Queen of Navarre, suffers from bad nightmares caused by the poisoned feast and her wicked relative. Liandra is shocked by her son's secret. She wants to find the murderer of her baby. Jordan sees the shocking death of one of her relatives. Steffan meets the Priestess...
That's all I'll write about the story, because I don't want to spoil anybody's reading pleasure by writing too many revelations about the plot twists.
The Silk & Steel Saga is full of different plot threads. Karen Azinger manages to hold all the plot threads expertly in her hands and moves the story powerfully forward and shows how darkness tries to conquer the world. This book is an excellent example of how fascinatingly she writes about the plot threads.
Although The Silk & Steel Saga is traditional epic fantasy, it's more complex than several other traditional epic fantasy series. Karen Azinger belongs to a small group of fantasy authors who have restored my faith in traditional fantasy books. Her fantasy books are so good and entertaining that you can't help but praise them - they're fantastic books!
What amazes me most is the epic scope of this fantasy series. Since the beginning Karen Azinger has gradually managed to add more depth to the world of Erdhe and has also deepened the characters in each new book. She has created a vast fantasy world that's full of wonders, horrors and fascinating characters. There's an amazing amount of richness in this series and the author brings the world to life by writing about the different places and what the characters do. I have to mention that I'm impressed by the author's skillful worldbuilding and effortless character development.
The fast-paced action scenes in this book are perfect and the author never ceases to impress me with her fluent descriptions about them. She has an ability to write convincingly about them and all things related to them. She shows how bad the losses can be and how bitter the small victories may be, because losing knights isn't easy.
Karen Azinger writes wonderfully about the characters. Each character has a history of his/her own, and what they've done and what's happened to them affects their lives and decisions. This kind of character development is genuinely interesting, because the characters feel realistic. She doesn't lose sight of what's important to the readers and keeps all her characters - both the evil and the good characers - interesting.
I love the way Karen Azinger writes about the female characters. They're strong women, but they're also vulnerable, because they have feelings and sometimes it's difficult for them to be both women and fighters at the same time. They have to survive and they also have to be prepared to fight and defend others.
Reading about Liandra is wonderful, because she's one of the strongest female characters ever created in traditional fantasy books. In this book the author writes more about Liandra's secret relationship with her lover and she does it well. This adds a nice and interesting touch of romance to the epic storyline.
I also have to mention that I enjoyed reading about Kath, Jordan and the Priestess, because they're all well created female characters. The author writes fantastically about their lives and deeds, because all of them are three-dimensional and have feelings, desires and needs (and also ambition).
It was fascinating to read how Jordan got to witness the old family curse in action, because the result was shocking for everybody. It was also nice to read about Kath and her decisions, because she had to deal with the death of a loved one and it affected her actions. I can say that the scene in which Kath delivers justice is quite unforgettable and may come as a surprise for several readers.
I also have to mention that Karen Azinger writes fluently about the male characters and their problems, because the have to deal with feelings of honour and duty. The knight marshal is an especially interesting character, because he must fight a desperate war against the forces of evil.
The introduction is excellent, because the readers get to see how the Mordant creates evil beings with dark magic. I'm sure that all reader will be delighted with this dark scene, because the gorelabe is an unforgettable abomination. (Because I'm a big fan of dark fantasy, I enjoyed reading about the Mordant's evil deeds.)
The nature and mechanics of evil are explored fascinatingly in this book. The author already wrote fantastically about these things in the previous books, but now she writes about them in an even stronger and more addictive way than before. One of the best things about this series is that the author shows that the Mordant is able to turn Weapons of Light to Darkness and uses them against the forces of Light.
Some fantasy authors tend to focus mostly on the action and forget what's happening to the souls of the characters that fight against evil. Karen Azinger hasn't forgotten this and shows that even good men are easily tempted by evil and may become victims to evil. As an example I'll mention that it was fascinating to read how Baldwin was given the task of taking the corrupted blue steel sword to Eye Lake. The sword was a bad temptation to him, because he noticed that it has power and it can help him win battles. In my opinion the author writes exceptionally well about the temptation and its effects on a human mind, because Baldwin feels the power of the sword and can't resist it.
Karen Azinger writes boldly and sensually about sex, sexuality and erotic scenes. For example, the scene in which Blaine has sex with the servants is a sensual and surprisingly erotic scene. The sex scenes featuring the Priestess are also well and fluently written erotic scenes, because she's a woman who enjoys sex and uses it to her advantage.
Karen Azinger is also able to write brutal and shocking scenes that will surprise and also terrify the readers. These scenes demonstrate that she knows how to write good stories and doesn't shy away from difficult material. The chapters about Queen Megan are simply amazing, because they show what kind of a hold evil can have on a person and how horrible the consequences can be when nothing can be done to prevent the evil from taking control of your life.
Karen Azinger's vision of the battle between the forces of good and evil is amazingly vivid and unforgettable, because she shows what happens on both sides. There are several authors who only write about the happenings from one side, so it's nice that Karen Azinger has more ambition than other authors. She goes all the way and explores what happens to the good and the evil characters.
In my opinion Karen Azinger loves storytelling and wants to offer her readers an unforgettable story (I'm sure that everybody who reads her books will notice how much she loves storytelling). She has clearly spent lots of time creating the world of Erdhe and the characters, because her books and descriptions are full of details. She wants to give her readers a story that entertains, shocks, intrigues and hooks them and makes them want to find out what happens next.
This series is moving fast towards the final battle between the forces of light and darkness. The Knight Marshal sets the stage for the Battle Immortal. Based on this book I can say that the final confrontation will be worth waiting for, because the author has made sure that everybody who reads this book will want to get their hands on the final book as soon as possible. (To be honest, I can hardly wait to hold the final book in my hands.)
The Silk & Steel Saga is one of the most enjoyable fantasy series ever written and this book, The Knight Marshal, is an amazingly entertaining fantasy book. The Knight Marshal is definitely ENTERTAINMENT with capital letters, because it's splendid escapism for fantasy readers who enjoy reading exciting and well told stories. It has almost everything from magic and battles to love and fear, so it contains plenty of intriguing elements that will be of interest to several fantasy readers.
The Knight Marshal is an excellent fantasy book and I can highly recommend it to all readers who like Karen Azinger's books and entertaining fantasy books. I'm sure that everybody who has read the previous books will love this book, because it's a perfect fantasy book (it's an exciting, magical, dark, gritty and - above all else - highly entertaining book). I give this book full five stars for its entertainment values!
Excellent fantasy entertainment and perfect escapism!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Extraordinary storytelling, seductive decadence and experimental strangeness - highly recommended!, 29 Nov 2013
Brendan Connell's Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is a fantastic novel. It's a brilliant example of what can be achieved when an author has enough imagination and vision, and isn't afraid of writing something different and experimenting with different kind of storytelling.
"Ah, what an extraordinary and beautifully written novel!" was the first thing that came to my mind when I finished reading Miss Homicide Plays the Flute, because I liked what I had read. Because I've always loved weird, imaginative and twisted stories, I have to confess that I read this novel twice before I began to write this review. This novel made a huge impression on me, so I can't help but praise it as much as I can.
Brendan Connell is an author who has a distinct writing style that separates him from other authors. No matter what he writes about, he writes quality and he isn't afraid of experimenting with unusual material and combining different elements. He's an undisputed modern master of decadence and weird stories. His prose can be as sharp as shards of glass and there's underlying and seductive eroticism in his stories. If I had to describe Brendan Connell's prose and stories with only one word, the word would be "unique" (I'm sure that all the readers who read his stories will notice that they're unique and original stories).
Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is an excellent example of Brendan Connell's talents, because it's an intriguing and sophisticated combination of decadence, style and beautiful prose. It's a clever, disturbing, weird and also humorous story that will fascinate you with its strangeness.
Homicide Plays the Flute pushes the boundaries of literary fiction quite a lot, but it fits into the realm of literary fiction and surrealism. It's a bit difficult to categorize it properly, because it - just like all the other novels and collections by Brendan Connell - defies easy categorization. I categorize this novel as literary fiction with surreal and decadent elements, but I could also categorize it as experimental literary speculative fiction with strong avant-garde elements.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Serena Plievir is a flutist. She has an expensive taste in art and she needs to pay the bills somehow, so she assassinates people and gets paid for executing the murders. Her first victim is Leslie who tries to sell a stolen painting. She executes the murder perfectly. Then she gets a contract to kill Pier, who's a 20-year-old cross-dresser. That's when things become weirder and more complex, because Serena finds herself in a complicated situation and doesn't know how to exterminate Pier. She becomes involved with Pier's family and soon Pier's mother, Gemma, becomes fascinated and attracted by her...
Brendan Connell creates an excellent and memorable vision of European culture and society and urban decay in this novel. Writing wittily about European culture and society is often difficult for several readers, but in my opinion Brendan Connell is one of the few authors who succeed in it. He also manages the difficult feat of writing fluently and fascinatingly about customs strange and peculiar without appearing to be condescending. I also have to mention that he writes boldly and unflinchingly about all things connected to sexuality. (It's truly refreshing to read a story in which all of these things are in balance.)
This novel has a wonderfully inventive structure, because there are sections (and footnotes) that describe the names of famous flute players and the types of prostitutes that were found in ancient Greece etc, and then the story continues in a normal way. These sections are truly interesting, because the author has added several details to them. The author has also written one paragraph backwards so that it needs to be viewed in the mirror - this is rare in literary novels.
The unusual structure isn't the only thing that separates this novel from other novels. This novel requires quite a lot of concentration from the readers, because it's much more complex than several other novels out there on the market. In my opinion this is great, because I love reading novels that make you think about what you're reading.
In several places the prose is charmingly poetic and lyrical, but also deliciously sharp. Brendan Connell's descriptions of the events are beautiful and they transport the reader into a true literary bliss (it isn't often that readers have a chance to read something like this, because finding this kind of descriptive prose is extremely difficult nowadays). His descriptions of the characters and their traits are wonderfully vivid, and his observations on society are as sharp as they are accurate. He easily creates a perfect atmosphere for the pleasant and unpleasant happenings.
I have to mention that I love Brendan Connell's twisted sense of humour very much, because his humour is often pitch black and he manages to surprise the reader with his nuanced humour. His humour is also fresh and playful.
Serena Plievir is an intriguing character, because she's a flutist who murders people for money. One of the things that makes her interesting is that she prefers not to kill young people (in her opinion killing young people is "miserable work"). The author wrote well about Serena's work and what she did to get close to her targets. It was interesting to read how Serena got to know Pier, Glauco and Gemma and got involved with them (I also enjoyed reading about how Serena felt about the family). The author also wrote fascinatingly about Serena's exquisite taste in fine arts and music.
I think it's possible that Nikita (played by Anne Parillaud in the film Nikita [aka La Femme Nikita]) and other famous female assassins from different movies and TV series may have been sources of inspiration for the author when he has created the character of Serena Plievir. I'm not sure if the character of Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson in the British crime series Luther) has been a source of inspiration to the author, but it's possible, because the characters of Alice and Serena have a few similarities. There are of course plenty of differences, because Serena murders people in order to get money and has an expensive taste in art, but I can almost see Ruth Wilson as Serena.
Before I finish writing this review, I'll mention that the cover art by David Rix fits the story perfectly. The historical refrences are wonderful, because they add a compelling and a slightly mysterious atmosphere to the story.
In my opinion Miss Homicide Plays the Flute is a superb feast of extraordinary storytelling, seductive decadence and experimental strangeness. It's a gorgeous combination of different elements and nuances that melt together and produce a beautiful and seducing symphony of sublime pleasures and perversions to readers who appreciate reading something out of the ordinary. (By the way, if you truly want to enjoy the excellence of this novel, pour yourself a glass of wine, put a CD of classical music to your CD player and press play, sit in a comfortable chair, lean back and let yourself be seduced by the story.)
If you appreciate quality and good prose and read literary novels, do yourself a favour and read Miss Homicide Plays the Flute immediately. It's a unique novel about the art of assassination and poisoning, musical instruments and history (Brendan Connell stirs these elements into a perfect mix of strange beauty and irresistable elegance). If you like thrillers, enjoy classical music, love weird stories and are fond of decandence, you won't be disappointed by Miss Homicide Plays the Flute, because it offers all of these things and much more in an unforgettably weird package. It's a literary treasure that awaits to be discovered by as many readers as possible.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good and interesting science fiction entertainment, 27 Nov 2013
Christopher Nuttall's Sufficiently Advanced Technology is the first book in the Inverse Shadows universe. It's a fascinating glimpse into a future world where several things are different from what they are now. It's good and interesting escapism from start to finish.
Before I write more about this book, I'll mention that Christopher Nuttall is an author who writes good and fluent entertainment. Although he writes quite a lot about magic, technology and other similar things, he writes about them in an entertaining way. I'm sure that fans of Christopher Nuttall will be delighted to read this book and I think that newcomers will also like it.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
Elyria is asked by Confederation Security Council to investigate the planet Darius and its inhabitants. The inhabitants of Darius are believed to be able to manipulate quantum foam (anybody who is able to manipulate it, can do almost anything with it). Darius and its inhabitants seem to be an enigma to everybody and nobody knows much about them, so Elyria and a group of researchers travel to Darius and begin to investigate what's going on (they want to learn more about the planet and they also want to find out how the local people manipulate the quantum foam). When they arrive to Darius, they think that nobody has noticed them, but the local people are aware of them...
The cast of characters is diverse, because the author writes about researchers, Peacekeeper officers, the AI etc. Here's a bit of information about some of the characters:
- Elyria is a professor and a mature student in the field of pre-singularity civilisations. She's an enthusiastic researcher.
- Dacron is an embodied human. He was part of the collective intelligence of the AI, but was embodied to be a human in order to participate in the mission to investigate Darius.
- Master Faye rules Warlock's Bane. He's a powerful magician and knows a lot about everything.
- Joshua is an apprentice to Master Faye. He has learned to use magic and obeys his master.
It was intriguing how well the author wrote about Dacron and his feelings, because he had difficulties understanding certain things, because he used to be an AI before being embodied. His thoughts about human behaviour, habits and sexuality were genuinely interesting. I also liked the way the author wrote about Elyria and how fascinated she was by Darius.
I have to mention that I also enjoyed reading about Joshua and Master Faye, because it was nice that the author wrote about the happenings from their point of view. It added depth to the storyline.
Christopher Nuttall has created an interesting view of the future world, because several things have developed greatly. For example, healing is quicker and people can use neural implants to access information. Although things have changed, there are still many puzzling and strange things in the universe that are linked to the Ancients and the Elders. By writing about the Elders the author has added interesting mystery elements to the storyline, because readers will be fascinated by what he writes about the Elders.
In my opinion Christopher Nuttall has an interesting and a slightly different kind of a scientific approach to studying an unknown planet and its wonders. He writes about what the researchers do and how they feel about their work. It's nice that he writes about both things, because I've noticed that there are many authors who concentrate on writing only about one aspect of scientific research and easily discard the rest (or only briefly refer to the other aspects).
It was fascinating that the author explored how researchers from an advanced civilisation studied another civilisation and interacted with the inhabitants of Darius. I enjoyed reading about Darius and how the civilisation had developed there. The author has created an interesting society that puzzles the explorers in many ways, because several things seem weird and too different from other cultures, societies and accepted norms. Darius was a total mystery to the researchers, because the civilisation seemed to have developed in a strange way and something was disrupting their technology.
One of the most interesting things about this book is that what seems to be magic for people on Darius is actually science to others (reading about quantum foam and how it was considered magic was very intriguing). There are authors who have written about this kind of combinaton of magic and science fiction (and magic vs. science) before, but Christopher Nuttall's approach to this theme feels refreshingly different and creative.
I enjoyed reading about the AI and also about their homeworld, Calculus, that partly existed in hyperspace. I was fascinated by the fact that the AI weren't able to sense and manipulate quantum foam. They knew it existed, but couldn't anything with it. I hope that the author continues to explore the AI in the forthcoming sequels, because it's interesting to read about them.
At the beginning of the book the author mentions that this book is dedicated to Iain M. Banks. When I read this book, I got the impression that Banks has been a source of inspiration to the author, because there's something slightly Banksian in the future world that the author has created.
Sufficiently Advanced Technology is the first science fiction book that I've read from Christopher Nuttall, but it won't be the last, because I like his entertaining writing style. He has his own writing style and he manages to create interesting worlds. Because this book was good and satisfying science fiction, I look forward to reading the next book.
Christopher Nuttall's Sufficiently Advanced Technology is a fascinating and fluently written science fiction book that will keep you entertained from start to finish. I can recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading entertaining science fiction books and stories, because it's good escapism.
Good and interesting science fiction entertainment!
3.0 out of 5 stars
An interesting and a bit different kind of a sci-fi book, 21 Nov 2013
Arteess: Conflict is the first volume of James Starling's four-part science fiction series, Arteess. Arteess: Conflict is a story about a virtual gaming world and how the players play the game. It's an interesting and bold experimentation in combining modern science fiction and gaming.
Before I write more about Arteess: Conflict, I'll mention that it was fun to read this book, because it was a different kind of a science fiction book. I don't normally get excited about books that tell about what happens in a virtual gaming world, but this book is one of the few exceptions that manage to convey the hectic action and the addictive atmosphere of the gaming world to readers, because the author writes enthusiastically about the quests and action scenes. (When I read this book, I thought to myself that the author must know quite a lot about games, because he manages to write convincingly and fluently about the different choices and action scenes.)
What makes Arteess: Conflict different is that the author concentrates fully on writing about the virtual world, action scenes and what kind of decisions the players make. I've read a couple of books which are slightly reminiscent of this book, but none of them are fully similar to it in terms of storytelling and story, so it's easy for me to say that the author has created something new.
It's good to mention that this book will probably split the readers into two groups - to those who enjoy it and to those who don't enjoy it - because it differs greatly from other new science fiction books. If a reader isn't familiar with online games etc, it's possible that it may be difficult to understand the contents of this book.
The events take place in the near future where computer games and online games have been developed to a much higher level than what they are now. Consoles have died out and internet has developed a lot, and gaming and internet have merged together.
Arteess: Conflict is a bit different kind of a vision of a vast virtual world, because the game world has been created to be realistic and large. The world of Arteess is almost like a complete replica of reality, but there are a few exceptions that separate it from reality.
The protagonists of this book consist of a group of friends who specialize in conflict arenas. They enter a secret level of a game and find themselves in Arteess. The world of Arteess gradually opens to the reader as the players get to know the gaming world. I think that this book revealed only a glimpse of the virtual world, because it's the first book. The author probably several surprises in store for his readers and will reveal them in the sequels.
In this book the author reveals interesting things about the game world. Here's a few examples of them (because this book is a fast read, I'll try to avoid writing too many spoilers):
- The players will be compensated for their time.
- A spec ops player can do anything and learn to use anything, but can't create anything. Techies take care of creating things etc.
- Sports players are imported into the game. They're vehicle pilots - they specialize in using armoured, flying and fast-moving vehicles.
I think it's interesting that the author explores the differences between the players by writing about what choices they make in the virtual world. The consequence-free virtual environment allows players to do several things. For example, looting is easy.
Arteess: Conflict is James Starling's debut book. In my opinion he has lots of potential and he writes well, but because Arteess: Conflict is a debut book, there are a few rough spots in it. Although I liked this book, the story raised a few questions. For example, when I read this book, I thought that it would have been interesting to know what happened outside the game world and how the world had changed. Because Arteess is a huge virtual world, it would also haven been nice to read more about the technology etc. These things would've added plenty of depth to the story.
Before I write the final words of my review, I'll mention that the story will continue in Arteess: Fortification. I think that everybody who enjoys reading this book will look forward to reading the sequel, because this books ends in an interesting way. I look forward to reading the sequel, because I'm interested in seeing how the author continues to develop his story and the world of Arteess.
I have to confess that it's a bit difficult for me to decide how many stars I'm going to give this book on the scale from 1 to 5 stars, because I liked the story, but wished that they would've been more depth in it. After careful consideration I decided to gived this book 3.5 stars: 4 stars for the bold and addictive experimentation with combining science fiction and gaming and 3 stars for the lack of depth.
Arteess: Conflict is an interesting and a bit different kind of a science fiction book. I think that readers who are interested in online games, war games and other similar kind of games will love this book and will be able to immerse themselves fully in the story and the happenings. It has everything that these readers could ever hope for, because it has action, suspense and surprises. In my opinion Arteess: Conflict is a dream-come-true book for readers who enjoy playing action packed computer games and spending time in virtual gaming worlds.
Interesting science fiction entertainment!
| by Graham Diamond|
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A fascinating fantasy novel, 10 Nov 2013
Graham Diamond's The Haven is an exceptionally good and unique fantasy novel. It's a story about how men, wolves and birds fight against cunning dogs and dangerous vampire bats. It's a story about dreams, hopes, courage, war and learning things from those who have lived before.
It's great that The Haven has finally been republished, because it has been out-of-print for several years. It's a charmingly dark adventure story that will keep readers turning pages until they've reached the last page.
I enjoyed reading The Haven, because it's been a long time since I've read anything like it (to be honest, I've never actually read anything quite like it, but I've read a few novels, which remind me of it). I was impressed by the author's writing style and ability to move the story forward, because the story flowed effortlessly and beautifully from start to finish.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- The soldiers of the Haven find a farmhouse and notice that the family has been brutally massacred. They bring news about the massacre to the Haven, which is the greatest city of the Empire (it has massive walls and tall towers, and the forests around it are endless).
- A young lord, Nigel, wants to explore the vast and endless Forest, but the Council of the Haven doesn't allow it. Nigel wants to find out if there's anything beyond the Forest.
- The vicious dogs that live in the Forest are about to attack the Haven with full force, because they have found themselves a Master. Under the leadership of Toland, a Great Pack is formed and the dogs are planning of wiping out the mankind entirely.
- The Council decides that Nigel, Lawrence and Desmond and a group of soldiers shall enter the Forest. Nigel and the other men intend to find a path through the Forest...
As you can see Graham Diamond has created an extraordinary story. He has plenty of imagination and he knows how to use it to his advantage by creating a memorable story and avoiding clichés.
Considering that The Haven is Graham Diamond's first novel, the characterization is amazingly fluent and the author has managed to create intriguing and realistic characters. I like the way Graham Diamond writes about the characters, because he gradually reveals details about them as the story progresses.
The main characters include Nigel and Desmond, but there are also several other characters. Nigel is a lord of the Haven and member of the Council. He's in love with Gwenn. Desmond is a soldier and Nigel's friend. The author writes beautifully about both of them and their difficult choices.
The animal characters are also interesting, because the author has created them perfectly and writes fluently about their feelings about the happenings. In my honest opinion, the author writes fantastically about Antonius, Vandor, Dinjar, Hector and Toland. There are also plenty of other animal characters, but I think it's best not to reveal too much information about these characters, because I don't want to write spoilers.
One of the best things about the characterization is that the author pays attention to duty and honour. The characters have duties and they act honourably, but they're also capable of doing less honourable things.
There are several memorable and interesting scenes in this novel. These scenes incluce the meeting with the wolves, the adventures in the forest and the desperate war against the dogs. The flashbacks are also interesting, because they reveal details about the characters.
I'll also mention separately that I enjoyed reading about Nigel's fascination with botany, because I'm interested in nature and botany. Because I've been interested in nature and botany for several years, it was great to read about a character who was fascinated by plants and wanted to study them.
Graham Diamond's descriptions of the forest areas are lush and vivid. It was thrilling to read about the men's adventures in the Forest, because Nigel and his men faced all kinds of dangers from quicksand and snakes to dog scouts and vampire bats. The author wrote believably about their adventures and the dangers that lurked under the trees.
The author has a fantastic way of writing about the frenzy and brutality of the war against the dogs. The battle scenes are bloody, ruthless and full of action. The author shows that everybody has something to lose in the war and one must be prepared to accept the losses, because the fighting is done for greater good.
It was fascinating to read how the birds were friends and allies of men, but other Dwellers weren't, because there was no trust between men and other Dwellers. It was also nice to read how the men felt about trusting the wolves, because it hadn't happened before and men feared that wolves would betray them. The author writes perfectly about this and shows that change is possible when all parties agree to the terms of the alliance and respect each other.
Graham Diamond writes entertaining and fluent prose. His desciptions about the happenings are genuinely interesting and exciting (it's easy for a reader to imagine how much terror the characters feel when they have to fight for their lives). I'm sure that every reader, who begins to read this novel, wants to find out what happens to mankind and the Dwellers at the end of the story.
The author reveals fascinating glimpses of the world's ancient history to his readers. I won't write more about the history of the world, because I might reveal too many things, but I'll mention that the author has interesting surprises in store for his readers. I'll also briefly mention that an old and legendary tale is used in an intriguing way at the end of the story.
I think it's nice that the author has used animal fantasy in this novel, because there aren't many authors who write animal fantasy. Although there are elements of animal fantasy in this novel, it isn't your usual kind of animal fantasy. Most readers probably think of Richard Adams' Watership Down or Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows when animal fantasy is mentioned, but this novel has nothing in common with them. In my opinion this novel is slighly reminiscent of William Horwood's The Wolves of Time duology, but only slightly, because there are several differences between this duology and The Haven.
The author combines quest fantasy and animal fantasy with dark fantasy and horror elements and creates an entertaining reading experience for fantasy readers. The horror and dark fantasy elements include Night-Birds (vampire bats), the threat of the dogs and the possible annihilation of mankind.
The Haven is considered to be a cult novel. I understand why it is called a cult novel, because it's an exciting novel that differs quite a lot from other fantasy novels. There aren't many fantasy novels, which can be compared to this one in terms of style and storytelling, because the author has successfully combined several elements. Graham Diamond has written a novel that stands out and dares to be different.
Although The Haven is a debut novel, it doesn't feel like a debut novel. It's a fully fleshed fantasy novel with plenty of action and adventure. I give this novel full five stars for its story and entertainment values.
I can highly recommend Graham Diamond's The Haven to all readers who enjoy reading fantasy, dark fantasy and animal fantasy. The Haven is a unique novel, because it's something different. It's a refreshingly dark and entertaining fantasy adventure that will appeal to several readers.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent entertainment for adults, 5 Nov 2013
This review is based on the Atria Books edition.
M. K. Hume's Warrior of the West continues the story of King Arthur in an exciting and entertaining way. Dragon's Child was an intriguing introduction to The King Arthur Trilogy, but this novel reveals the true vastness of the epic story arc that the author has created.
Just like Dragon's Child, Warrior of the West is a gritty, mesmerizing and well written historical novel with a few fantastical elements. The fantastical elements include casting bones and prophecies etc.
Here's information about this novel:
- The events take place a few years after the events of Dragon's Child.
- Warrior of the West has been divided into two parts. The first part tells about Artor's battle against the Saxons. The second part tells about Artor and Wenhaver and what happens at Cadbury Tor.
- This novel begins with a meeting between the Celts and the Saxons. This meeting ends badly. Artor is at Cadbury Tor and awaits news of the possible truce, but receives different kind of news. A war council is held and the Celts decide to go to war against the Saxons, because the Saxons are brutally attacking against them. The war against the Saxons takes a lot of Arthur's time, because they have to win the war. Times are desperate, so the Celts must fight for their country...
- When the battle is over, Artor knows that he must soon take a new wife. He still misses Gallia, but he knows that he must marry somebody soon. Artor takes Wenhaver as his wife, but their life together isn't happy. Life at Cadbury Tor changes a lot with the coming of Wenhaver...
That's all I'll write about the story, because I don't want to reveal too many details and happenings. I'll only mention that the author has interesting suprises in store for her readers.
At this point I'll mention that the story moves fluently forward and several things happen to the characters. I think it's good that the author has used a time gap between Dragon's Child and Warrior of the West. This time gap has allowed her to develop the characters and the happenings.
In my opinion writing about the battle against the Saxons and what happens to Bedwyr was an interesting way to start this novel, because the author concentrated fully on writing about it. After the battle the author shifted the focus shifted to Cadbury Tor and Artor's doomed marriage to Wenhaver.
The cast of characters is just as diverse as it was in the previous novel, because the author writes about all kinds of characters from ladies and lords to servants and slaves. Several characters from the previous novel appear in this novel, but the author also introduces new characters.
Here's information about some of the characters:
- Artor is the High King of the Britons. He has changed during the last twelve years, because he's harder than before. The battles have left their marks on him. He still has honour, but the blood soaked years have hardened him. He's a harsh man who has duties.
- Gruffydd and Myrddion are still as interesting characters as they were in Dragon's Child. The author writes fluently about them.
- Caius has become a steward to Artor.
- Bedwyr is an interesting character, because he's a Celt who was captured by the Saxons. The author uses Bedwyr to explore what happens among the Saxons.
- Wenhaver is a beautiful and spoiled woman. She's the daughter of King Leodegran. She's also the woman with yellow hair that Morgan prophesized about. I'll write more about her later.
- Morgan is still as evil and manipulative as before, but she has aged.
- Nimue has grown up and a tragedy changes her life. She's a sweet young woman, but she's also wild.
- Glamdring Ironfist is a Saxon war chief. He causes problems for Artor and the Celts.
The characterization works well and the author manages to deepen the character of Artor. She also writes fluently about other characters. I enjoyed reading about Artor, Wenhaver, Nimue, Gruffydd, Myrddion, Morgan and Bedwyr.
Reading about Wenhaver and her actions was especially interesting, because she had a vile temper. Her behaviour and attitude towards others became worse as time went by and she turned out to be capable of doing surprisingly bad things. She was like a spoiled child who wanted people to pay attention to her. If people didn't pay attention to her, she was offended and acted badly.
M. K. Hume writes perfectly about how bad a person Wenhaver is and shows what she is capable of doing to others. She's capable of hurting people - and even her own husband - in several ways and nobody seems to be safe from her temper. It's great that the author has managed to write so boldly about her life.
It was fascinating to reading how Artor's marriage to Wenhaver was doomed from the start, because he was't impressed by his wife and her behaviour. Artor seemed to use Wenhaver mostly for sex, because Wenhaver couldn't act like a queen or a wife should act. Their marriage was cold and unhappy for both of them.
M. K. Hume writes fascinatingly about life in ancient Britain and shows what kind of values people used to have and how the Celts regarded the Saxons as savages. She also shows how history has shaped ancient Britain and how Roman customs were absorbed by the populace (hygiene and public bathing etc). The detailed descriptions about the places, characters and battles are believable.
What separates this novel from several other Arthurian novels is the amount of details M. K. Hume has added to the story. It's easy to see that she has spent time researching historical happenings and all things related to the Arthurian legend. She has done her best to bring the happenings to life by writing about what happens to the characters and how brutal life was in ancient times, and she has succeeded in it.
It's great that the author shows what happens among the Saxons too, because it adds depth to the storyline. It was fascinating to read about the actions and brutality of the Saxons and how they treated men and women. What happened at the Saxon camp was both brutal and thrilling.
One of the best things about this novel (and this series) is that the author shows that the characters have to live with what they have done. She isn't easy on her characters, because some of them have to endure all kinds of things. I've always enjoyed reading about how the characters feel about what they have done and how they live with the consequences of their actions, because it adds plenty of depth to the characters.
I enjoyed reading about how the shadow of the late Uther Pendragon loomed over Artor and how some characters saw that there were similarities between Artor and Uther. This added a menacing sense of doom to the storyline, because the author indicated that if things were a bit different, Artor could turn out to be as bad and ruthless as Uther.
There are several good scenes in this novel that reveal what the characters feel about other persons. For example, the author revealed how Artor cares about his daughter and wanted her to be safe. I also enjoyed reading about Myrddion's feelings towards Nimue.
M. K. Hume has her own writing style. Her writing style is delightfully different, because she pays attention to historical details and keeps the story going on. It's easy to see that she loves storytelling, because she writes passionately about the happenings and the characters.
The author's descriptions about the battle scenes are good and realistic. In my opinion she manages to write about them in a bit different way than other authors do. She concentrates on writing about how Artor and the others feel about the battles and how they try to win their foes by using careful planning and strategic thinking.
Warrior of the West is a novel for adults, because there's sex and violence in it. These scenes are suitable only for adult readers.
It's nice that M. K. Hume doesn't shy away from gritty, bloody and dark happenings, because other authors would've probably written differently about these things (to be honest, it's actually amazing how gritty the story is). She writes brutally and unflinchingly about violence. She shows that men are capable of doing all kinds of brutal things to others. The scenes near the end in which a human monster attacks and preys on helpless victims reminded me a bit of the brutal happenings in the first novel (I'd like to write more about this, but I think it's best not to write about it or I might reveal too many things to readers).
Before I finish writing this review, I'll mention that there are good maps in this novel. They are useful to readers, because they give information about the places. I'll also mention that I liked the cover image.
I enjoyed reading Dragon's Child, but I have to admit that Warrior of the West is a much better novel and has more depth in it. In my opinion Warrior of the West is an exceptionally good and compelling retelling of the Arthurian legend, because the author has written her own unique vision of King Arthur, his life and his deeds.
I'll soon read and review The Bloody Cup, which is the third novel of The King Arthur Trilogy. I look forward to reading it, because it'll be fascinating to see how this trilogy ends. I'm sure that it'll be a thrilling novel, because this novel was good entertainment.
If you're interested in the legend of King Arthur and enjoy reading Arthurian novels, you should read Warrior of the West and its predecessor (Dragon's Child), because M. K. Hume has written a totally different kind of story about King Arthur. She delivers a captivating and epic story that keeps readers turning pages to find out what happens next.
Fantastic entertainment for adults!