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The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
The Scarlet Thief (Jack Lark)
by Paul Fraser Collard
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scarlet Thief, Paul Fraser Collard- Book review, 8 May 2013
Jack Lark was just a normal boy from the poor east-end of London who, sick of lifting heavy beer barrels in his mother's pub, decided he wanted something more. For Jack, that opportunity came when the recruiting officers of the British Army arrived in Jack's borough looking incredibly impressive and promising the young Londoner a life of excitement and adventure with postings in the vast British Empire. So, one day, Jack plucked up the courage to leave his mother's pub and join the army, however once enlisted, Jack realises that the life of a soldier is not as exciting as he hoped...

The year is 1854 and Britain has not been at war since the days of Napoleon and Wellington. Therefore, most British troops are not in active service but are instead on garrison duty in the heartland of England. Unluckily for Jack, his new unit is garrisoned in Aldershot and Jack soon finds out that garrison life can be extremely boring. However, trying to better himself and trying to impress a young woman, Jack manages to get promoted to the station of Orderly under Captain Sloames. Being new at his job, Jack is not as efficient as other orderlies in the camp, but with an understanding Captain like Arthur Sloames, he soon learns what his duties are.

Nevertheless, just as Jack believes he is getting somewhere in the army he becomes a target for the rough and bullying Colour Sergeant Slater who has a grudge against Jack for been promoted and therefore, no longer been under Slater's control. The Colour Sergeant has been known in the camp to frame other soldiers to get his revenge, so Jack is as cautious as he can be around Slater. However, after a fight between the two soldiers, which accidently results in a death, Jack has to escape the camp or face a severe punishment. Luckily, Captain Sloames helps Jack again and offers him the opportunity to join the division of troops that have been deployed to the Crimea to fight the Russians.

Jack happily accepts, as it will get him away from Slater. However, on the road to Dover, Captain Sloames is struck by a fever which ends in his death. Jack is at a loss of what to do. He thought the war in Russia would lead him to glory and riches but with Sloames's death, that future is uncertain. On the other hand, he cannot return to the garrison for fear of punishment, which could see him whipped and Slater, which could see him killed. Jack has to make a decision on his own future and eventually makes one that will see him go to the Crimea, not just as an Orderly, but as the new Captain of the King's Royal Fusiliers!

As a first book in a new historical series, I thought Fraser Collard did an excellent job. At first seeing this book was based in the Crimean War, I assumed that the novel would take place around the Siege of Sevastopol, which is probably the best know event in the war after the Charge of the Light Brigade. However, I was totally wrong, as Fraser Collard bases the novel at the very start of the war with the first battle between the allies (Britain and France) and the Russians at the Battle of the Alma. I really liked this fact because I did not know that much about the battle and found reading Fraser Collard's description of it both entertaining and exciting but also really interesting, making me want to find out more about this period of history!

I also really enjoyed the story in the novel as it was the type of zero-hero plot which I always love in a historical fiction book. I think this is why the book has been compared to Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels so often (along with the fact it in based in the 19th Century). However, I did like uniqueness of how Jack became a hero in this novel and how his personality and attitude still manages to shine through even when he becomes an officer. Plus, I thought the ending set up the next novel in the series really well, making me want to read more of Jack's tale!

All in all, this was an exciting and interesting novel which I really enjoyed reading! If you are a fan of British military history and like novels such Sharpe, then I think you'll love this book so make sure to check it out!

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The Wolf's Gold:  Empire V (Empire series)
The Wolf's Gold: Empire V (Empire series)
by Anthony Riches
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wolf's Gold, Anthony Riches- Book Review, 28 April 2013
Wolf's Gold is the fifth book in Anthony Riches's action packed Empire series. In his latest book, Riches takes our hero Centurion Marcus Corvus and his Tungrians away from their recent victory in Germania to the far reaches of the Empire. Their destination is Dacia on the north-eastern edge of the Empire, and their job is to protect an important gold mine that supplies the Imperial Treasury with tonnes of gold every day! The mine has come under threat from the Sarmatians, a rebellious tribe that lives in the area. The Sarmatians are a war-like people who are feared for their skills in archery and for the poisoned arrows they use against their enemies.

However, as Marcus and his fellow officers find out, the rebellion is not as straightforward as it seems, as the King of the Sarmatian horde, Asander is not as hostile to Rome as is first thought. However, he is a puppet for his hot headed brother-in-law Inarmaz, who is violently opposed to Roman rule in Dacia. Marcus and his Tribune, Scaurus work hard to have Inarmaz removed as a threat from the Sarmatian army. However, they soon find out that the temptation of gold is not easily quenched, as traitors from within their own ranks plot to seize the gold mine and steal all of the Emperor's gold, whilst setting their old comrades up to face a severe fight. The likes of which they haven't seen since Germania.

This was another great edition to Riches's Empire series. I liked the fact that the Tungrians were taken to another part of the Empire to fight new and interesting allies. I also liked the fact that Marcus's storyline is built on in this book, as he debates with himself if he should return to Rome to avenge his family's murder, or just try and move on with his new wife and son. It gives some insight to where the series is going to go in the next few books, which got me really excited to read the next novel!

I'd suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of other `Roman' novels and authors such as Ben Kane, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Gordon Doherty. As a series, I'd highly suggest it to anyone who wants to get into Roman historical-fiction as it is a great series packed full of action, battles and great characters!

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The Forgotten Legion: (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles No. 1)
The Forgotten Legion: (The Forgotten Legion Chronicles No. 1)
by Ben Kane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Legion, Ben Kane- Book Review, 19 April 2013
The Forgotten Legion is based around one of the most infamous eras of Roman history, the triumvirate of Pompeii Magnus, Crassus and Julius Caesar. During this period of corruption and instability emerges two tales. The first is that of Tarquinius, an Etruscan warrior and soothsayer who has the ability to tell the future from the stars, the elements and from the innards of animals. At a young age, Tarquinius is told by his teacher that he will travel to Rome and there meet and befriend two Gladiators. The Etruscan keeps this prophecy in mind, and after his teacher's death, travels to Rome. In the city, his prophecy is reveal as (by accident) he is introduced to two Gladiators who are wrongly accused of murder and are on the run from Roman justice.

The second story follows Romulus and Fabiola. Romulus and Fabiola are twins who were born as slaves into the ownership of a wicked merchant. At the age of thirteen, the twins are sold into two of the harshest forms of slavery. Romulus is sold to a Gladiator school and Fabiola is sold to the Lupanar, Rome's most famous and expensive brothel. Life seems over for the two young slaves, Gladiators only last a few months in the vicious Lupus Magnus and Fabiola seems destine to live out her life as the plaything of wealthy men. However, their stories do have a silver lining.

For Fabiola this comes with the introduction of Decimus Brutus, a charming army officer and Julius Caesar's right hand man. Fabiola (after been taught the tricks of her trade) manages to seduce Brutus with the hope that one day he will buy her freedom and reunite her with Romulus. Romulus's silver lining comes in the friendship he makes with a Gaul called Brennus, who happens to be the best Gladiator in all of Rome! Brennus helps train the young slave in sword fighting and when the chance arises, even sneaks Romulus out of the Lupus Magnus for a night on the town! However, the night does not go as planned, resulting in Romulus been accused of murdering a Roman noble and the two Gladiators fleeing for their lives. Luckily, fate seems to be on the Gladiators' side as they manage to escape Rome and join an auxiliary unit destined for service in the East with Crassus's army. It is here where the two Gladiators meet Tarquinius and the prophecy is fulfilled. However, with the army moving east against Rome's greatest enemy, their journey is not at an end, as the three suffer bad omens, defeat and capture to become part of the Forgotten Legion!

This was a great book! I thought the story of Crassus's army and the `Forgotten Legion' was really interesting because most other novels based in this period of history are always set around Caesar's ascendancy and Pompeii's reaction. So I found it really interesting reading about Crassus's fate and the amazing story of the Legionaries that were captured after the battle of Carrhae. As always, Kane does an extremely good job of adding precise details to his novels, which gives his books historical accuracy. At the same time, the detail also makes them extremely fun to read as the extra details makes it much easier to visualise these events that happened over two thousand years ago! Plus, when you have Michael Pread narrating, it gives another, extra bonus to the book and I'd highly suggest you check out the audiobook of The Forgotten Legion!

A really entertaining book (and so far) an amazing series. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a historical-fiction fan and enjoys Ben Kane's other novels. I'd also suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of authors such as: Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden and Gordon Doherty.

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The Colour of Magic: The First  Discworld Novel: 1
The Colour of Magic: The First Discworld Novel: 1
by Terry Pratchett
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett- Book Review, 7 April 2013
The Colour of Magic is the first novel in Terry Pratchett's legendary and loveable Discworld series. The novel takes place on a disc-shaped world, floating on the back of four elephants, which are riding on the back of a giant turtle that travels through the universe! The story follows two main characters, Rincewind and Twoflower. Rincewind is a failed wizard from the city of Ankh-Morpork, who because of his daring nature was expelled from the wizard's university before he could learn any spells. However, from reading a restricted book (which is the reason he gets through out of the university) he does accidently manage to learn one extremely powerful spell. Unfortunately, the spell will only reveal its words whenever it chooses and again leaves Rincewind a wizard without any magic! Plus, things are made much worse for Rincewind as he is plagued by Death who makes it his goal to kill the unfortunate wizard!

Twoflower is an insurance seller from the Agatean Empire (which is on the opposite side of the Discworld from Ankh- Morpork) who decides that he wants to travel and see the Discworld. One day, Twoflower packs up his luggage and sets sail to Ankh-Morpork. Now, Twoflower is very naïve and doesn't realise that the Agatean Empire and Ankh-Morpork are two very different places. In the Empire, there is a vast amount of gold, which means that each of its citizens is very rich compared to the people of Ankh-Morpork. Thus, when Twoflower turns up with a magical suitcase full of gold, he gets a few strange and unfriendly looks. Twoflower is the first ever tourist to Ankh-Morpork and the ruler of the city has to keep him safe, otherwise he'll feel the wrath of the Agatean Empire. To keep Twoflower safe, the ruler of Ankh-Morpork appoints Rincewind as his guide. However, the task is not an easy one, as the wizard and the tourist have to flee the city because of a fire started by Twoflower, setting them on a magical and hilarious journey!

I've wanted to read a Terry Pratchett's novel for a while now but I never really knew where to start! I was thinking of reading his latest novel Dodger, which I think is the thirty-ninth novel in his Discworld series. However, after some advice, I decided to start at the very beginning of Pratchett's extensive series with The Colour of Magic and I'm glad I did, because this book was great!

My favourite part about the novel was its humour and its apparent randomness! After reading some reviews of the book, I noticed that not everyone enjoyed this. However, for me, I thought this was great and made the book extremely fun to read. In addition, the novel is left on a great cliff-hanger making me want to read the next novel in the series.

All in all, this was a really fun and entertaining novel and I can't wait to read more novels from the Discworld series. Hopefully one day I'll have read them all but I don't think that will be any day soon! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fantasy fan or anyone who is a fan of fairy-tale stories. Fans of Hank Quense's work will also love this novel as they both have that humorous, quirky feel to them!

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Wotan's Dilemma
Wotan's Dilemma
Price: £2.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Wotan's Dilemma, Hank Quense- Book Review, 25 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Wotan's Dilemma (Kindle Edition)
Wotan's Dilemma is the latest book in Hank Quense's Strange World series. Much like Hank's Falstaff's Big Gamble, Wotan's Dilemma seems at first to be quite a random book. However, with Hank's humour and style, he manages to bring all this randomness into a really funny and unique novel!

Wotan's Dilemma is based in a post-apocalyptic Earth far into the future. In this new world, humankind has resorted back to its medieval ways of living in small towns and clans, whilst fighting with primitive weapons such as the sword and the spear. However, what's different about this new (but old) world is that Earth is inhabited by aliens, some bad and some good. The most evil of the aliens living on Earth is Fafner, a black, slimy, octopus-like monster who is a professional criminal on the run from the Inter-Galactic Police. Another alien living on earth is Alberich, a puny pale-green Nibelung who was exiled to Earth. Alberich may be puny but he has a brilliant mind and after finding some magical gold, invents a helmet and a chip that can see into the future. Fafner hears about Alberich's great invention and as a criminal mastermind, robs Alberich and steals his inventions, setting himself up as an Evil God and ruling over the local populace.

Meanwhile, the Norse god Wotan has a dilemma. The gold that Alberich found was the Rhinegold, the magic gold that gives the gods their powers. Without the gold, Wotan and the other Norse gods will become old and weak and eventually have to go to the Old God's Retirement Village and live with other forgotten gods such as Ra, Horus, Zeus and Jupiter. However, Wotan cannot just take the gold back as it has to be given freely, and after it is stolen by Fafner, he knows that it will never be given back willingly.

Nevertheless, Wotan is resourceful and plans to create a mighty, if slightly dim, warrior to battle and kill Fafner and return the Rhinegold to the gods. However, to create this warrior will take a generation (which the god doesn't have) and his plan doesn't go as smoothly as he planned...

As I said, this was an entertaining, amusing and interesting book. I especially liked all of the Norse mythology and the link between Wotan and the composer Wagner. I also thought Hank left the ending open for another novel in the series, so it will be interesting to see if another book comes out of this story!

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, especially novels such as The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett as Wotan's Dilemma has that same quirky, humorous feel. I'd also suggest it to anyone who would like to try something a little different as this book won't disappoint!

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The Waste Land
The Waste Land
by Simon Acland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Waste Land, Simon Acland- Book Review, 22 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The Waste Land (Paperback)
The Waste Land tells two very different but interlinking stories. The first and main story in the novel is based at the end of the eleventh century and revolves around a young man called Hugh de Verdon. Hugh is the youngest son of a minor French noble and has always dreamed of been a fighter and a knight, just like his father. However, after his father and brothers are killed in an ambush, Hugh is forced to take on a clerical life, as his mother cannot cope with the death of his father and sends Hugh to become a monk. Hugh is enrolled as a novice at the great Monastery of Cluny, where because of his quick mind and his family connections, rapidly becomes secretary to the Prior of the monastery. Although Hugh enjoys been able to read and study at the monastery, he feels that the clerical life is not as fulfilling as he wanted. Hugh still wants to be a fighter like his father; he still wants to feel the exhilaration of riding a horse and chasing down pray. Luckily for Hugh, the declaration made by Pope Urban, stating that there would be a Crusade against the Saracens of Jerusalem, answers Hugh's preys. Also, with the emergence of the Duke of Lower Lorraine (Godfrey Boulogne, who is a distant cousin of Hugh's) at the monastery, finally convinces Hugh that been a Crusader is his path. Hugh manages to gain leave from Cluny and heads east with Godfrey. However, unluckily for the young knight, Hugh soon finds out that war and Christianity are not as glorious as he believed in his dreams, as he is introduced to secrets and stories that reveal the true nature of Christ's death.

The second story is that of a group of Oxford professors and scholars. The school has come under a lot of financial pressure over the last few years, resulting in a new Master being employed to sort out the mess. The new Master knows that money has to be brought into the university and with the emergence of an ancient manuscript from the Crusades, written by none other than Hugh de Verdon himself, the Master comes up with a plan to get the university out of debt. He employs a Best-Selling author who used to go to school at the university and who, like the university, has also fallen on hard times. The professors help the Best-Selling author to tell Hugh's extraordinary tale and help fill in some of the gaps which are missing from the era of the Crusades. However, with the discovery of Hugh's manuscript comes jealousy and envy, as it is the school and not the finder of the manuscript who will make all the money off the new book. This causes a chain of events that leads to sabotage, arson and even murder as the individual tries to kill the university professors who will deny him his fame and fortune.

I really enjoyed reading The Waste Land! As many of you know, I am a massive fan of historical-fiction but have never really read any fiction based around the Crusades, and only have the most basic of knowledge about what happened during the First Crusade in 1096. For me, The Waste Land was an excellent book to read to get an introduction and an interest in the Crusades, as Hugh's story is so interesting and takes him all over the various battles and cities in the Holy Land. Furthermore, Acland does a brilliant job in describing the battles and cities in his novel and to say that he describes himself as a `modern linguist' and not a historian, really shows how well written and descriptive this novel is, as it emerges you in the history and makes you feel like you were there, fighting alongside Hugh! Moreover, the added aspect of the murder-mystery of the university and the witty-and-often-malicious banter between the professors adds some humour and a further dimension to the book, which I really liked!

However, I did have one minor issue with the book; towards the end there was a lot of Hugh riding and walking. I felt that this slowed the pace of the book down as the riding often took place between two major events. Now obviously I understand that marching and riding was a major part of any Crusader's life, but I still felt that towards the end, Hugh's travelling did slow the book down. Also, this is not really a problem for me (I really liked it in fact) but the novel does end on a cliff hanger! Like I said, I really like this as it sets up the next novel of the series and makes you really excited to read it. However, I know some readers do not like cliff hangers! But do not worry! Simon's next book in the series The Flowers of Evil is already released, so if you wanted to, you could just buy this book straight after The Waste Land and continue reading Hugh's tale!

Nevertheless, even though I did have this small issue, I still really enjoyed the book! It was a great historical-fiction novel mixed interestingly with murder mystery and medieval Grail romances. I would suggest this book to anyone who is interested in the Crusades or has an interest in historical fiction as a general. I would also suggest it to fans of other historical grail quest novels such as Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell or the Templar novels written by Michael Jecks.

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Wrath of Iron (Space Marine Battles)
Wrath of Iron (Space Marine Battles)
by Chris Wraight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Wrath of Iron, Chris Wraight- Book Review, 13 Mar. 2013
I don't really know what I thought of Wrath of Iron. After reading Gav Thorpe's novels on the Dark Angels, I was extremely excited to get stuck into another Space Marine Battle Novel, as The Purging of Kadillus was so brilliant! However, for me, this book did not live up to that expectation. Nevertheless, it does not mean that I did not enjoy it.

The novel tells the tale of The Iron Hands and their allies- The Imperial Guard and the Titan Battlegroup Praxes. The Space Marines and their allies are sent to purge the world of Shardenus, which comes under the control of the Chaos Gods. Shardenus is an industrial waste with most of its inhabitants living underground to avoid the poisonous fumes that inhabit the world's surface. The synopsis sets the book up to be an epic battle. The Marines are tasked with breaking into the planet's underbelly, fighting off Daemons and Mutants and finally, destroying the Chaos Leader that is corrupting the world. However, I felt the one problem that let this epic-ness down was the Iron Hands!

I have never really read into the Iron Hands before this book. The chapter revolves around the belief that the human form is weak and that the only way they, as machines of war, can overcome this weakness is to literally become machines. The Iron Hands do this by firstly removing one of their hands and replacing it with an iron one. Then over their many decades of service, they remove other body parts and replace them with implants and machines. This leads to many of the Marines losing their human feelings and compassion. I think this explains why I didn't take to this book as much as I did with other Space Marine novels. This is because there is no real depth to any of the Iron Hands as they have no real feelings or back story. I thought that as a reader, you didn't get any real feel for who the Iron Hands are, like you do in other Space Marine Battle novels. I also think this is why the book is taken up with the stories of The Imperial Guard and the Titans, as much as it is with the Iron Hands. I think this is because without these subplots in the novel, the plot of the Iron Hands would have only taken about 100 pages to read.

Nevertheless, as an author and writer, I really liked Chris Wraight and when the Iron Hands did get interesting towards the end, his description of the gory battle and their last push really captivated me and made me want to read more of his novels.

All in all, I felt a little disappointed with this book but I think this is because I am not a fan of the Iron Hands, however, the ending is great and definitely made this book worth a read. I would suggest it to anyone who is a Warhammer 40k fan, specifically if you're an Iron Hands player. I'd also suggest it if you like sci-fi and have never read a Warhammer 40k novel before. The Space Marines Battle series is a great way to get into the wonderful world of Warhammer, so why not give one of the excellent novels in the series a try!

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The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1)
The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.84

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Painted Man, Peter V. Brett- Book Review, 3 Mar. 2013
The novel takes place in Thesa, a world of magic and ancient legends. By day, the inhabitants of Thesa are driven hard to scratch a meagre living out of the earth and by night are tormented by the evil Corelings. Corelings are magical demons that appear every night to hunt humans. The Corelings come in many different forms such as fire, wood, wind and rock and the only thing that protects humans from the demons are magical `Wards'. Wards are painted over door frames and on walls to stop demons getting into houses. However, many of the secrets of Wards have been lost over the centuries and many humans are killed nightly because their Wards are not strong enough.

Out of this terrible world, three stories emerge. The first is that of Arlen who is a very skilled Warder, even though he is still a young boy. After the death of his mother at the hands of a Coreling, Arlen runs away from home. He vows that he will fight the demons one day and to do this he becomes an apprentice warder. With his new profession, Arlen hopes that these new skills will help him become a `Messenger' and ultimately, help him kill Corelings.

Leesha is a young girl who is abused by her mother and told that she will never become something. However, after a Coreling attack, she finds herself helping the local Herb-gatherer Bruna. Bruna sticks up for Leesha and takes her on as an apprentice, teaching her secrets that many healers have forgotten. After seven years, Leesha finishes her apprenticeship and travels to the city to further her knowledge about the art of herb gathering. After spending a few years in the city, Leesha hears of a flux that is affecting her home village of Cutter's Hollow and returns as quickly as she is able, with a Jangler called Rojer.

Rojer, like Arlen, is the victim of a savage Coreling attack in which his mother and his father are murdered and in which Rojer loses some fingers to a Coreling's bite! Rojer is taken in by a famous Jangler called Arrick who agrees to raise Rojer after the murder of his parents. However, because of his weakened hand, Rojer is seen as a poor Jangler as he cannot juggle. However, his skills with a fiddle gain him recognition and even gain him the nickname of Rojer `Half-grip'. His skills are so great that when on the road between the hamlets and the city, Rojer's fiddling even manages to calm Corelings. Unfortunately, on this same trip, Rojer's mentor is clawed by Corelings, forcing him to return to the city in which he meets Leesha and agrees to travel with her to Cutter's Hollow.

This was a good novel and I really enjoyed it. It did start a little slow for me and I don't think it really picked up until `The Painted Man' was introduced. Nevertheless, from then on is really fast-paced, action filled and exciting! I can't wait to read the second book in the series The Desert Spear, however, I think I will actually read that book instead of listening to it as an audiobook.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan on fantasy novels such as The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Prince of Thorns by Marl Lawrence or It Began with Ashes by D. E. M. Emrys as they all have the same fantasy feel to them and they are all great books!

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It Began With Ashes (Wroge Elements Book 1)
It Began With Ashes (Wroge Elements Book 1)
Price: £2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Began With Ashes, D. E. M. Emrys- Book Review, 24 Feb. 2013
I've been looking forward to reading It Began With Ashes ever since I read David's short story From Man to Man, which was sort of an interlude/teaser for this novel. I have to say that the book was worth the wait, as from the first chapter you are drawn into the story! The novel is based in the fictional world of Wroge, which after a time of invasion, war and conquest, has held an unsteady peace between the various Kingdoms and Clans for the last twelve years. The wars fought over a decade earlier saw the rise of the Arneutons, who now rule Wroge with a strict hand, and the exile of the Vikir, a fearsome tribe of horn-helmed warriors, that were banished to the icy wastes in the North of Wroge.

In amongst these tribes are the Keltir, a clan that fought for the Arneutons during the war. After their loyal service during the war, the Keltir are now forced to scratch out a living on the border of Wroge. The Torne, a subsection of the clan, mostly live in and around Hearth Village, which is only a short distance from the exiled Vikir.

On the road to Hearth Village, Astartes is nervous. From the seat in his father's cart, he is convinced that someone or something is stalking them through the forest. His father tells him not to be ridiculous, as no bandits would dare attack them this close to the village and more importantly, this close to the Mercenaries' Guild. However, Astartes is not convinced and as the cart passes through a dark clearing, he notices a human shaped figure watching them, but this is not what scares him the most, it's the fact the figure is wearing a horned helmet...

Meanwhile in Hearth Village, Draven is part of the Keltir and has a dark and dangerous past. Serving as a mercenary, Draven fought during the Arneuton invasion and numerous other wars. However, after the birth of his son Kale, Draven gave up the hard but well-paid life of a mercenary to settle down with his wife and son. Draven and his family managed to survive in the small village of Hearth after Kale's birth. However, twelve years on, things have become dire and Draven must return to his job as a sword-for-hire to feed his family, much to the distress and anger of his wife Morganna. However, on the eve of Draven's departure, fate turns against him and sends an old and dangerous enemy to Hearth Village resulting in Draven, Kale and Morganna's world being turned to ash.

This book was great! Interestingly, when I was reading this book I was also listening to The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett as an audiobook. Both of these books are quite similar- they're both fantasy novels and are set in a medieval sort of environment. However, out of the two novels I can honestly say that I preferred It Began With Ashes! As I said above, the vision of the helmeted warrior in the first chapter really caught my attention and after that, I was totally hooked with the novel! I love that fact that you find out more about Draven's past in this novel, whereas in From Man to Man it is left really mysterious.

I can't wait for the next instalment of the Wroge Elements to find out more about Draven and Kale's story! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of fantasy novels. I also think that fans of The Warded Man would really enjoy this novel and should definitely check it out! I'd also say that you should definitely read From Man to Man before you check out this novel, as it really adds to the plot in this book. Plus, as a short-story on its own, it is a really great read!

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Wolf Revenge: Adventure Sci-Fi/ Heroic Fantasy/ Romance: Volume 2
Wolf Revenge: Adventure Sci-Fi/ Heroic Fantasy/ Romance: Volume 2
by Susan Cartwright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Wolf Revenge, Susan Cartwright- Book Review, 16 Feb. 2013
Wolf Revenge is the second book in Susan Cartwright's epic The Forsaken Worlds series. The novel picks up the plot straight after Wolf Dawn and sees our hero Ash, the Trueborn, set out on his mission to kill Larren Forseth- the man wrongly accused of killing Ash's race! Ash tracks Larren down on the planet of Kalar and with the help of his love Lindha, sets off on his journey to the planet that is currently under quarantine.

On the planet's surface, Larren Forseth is doing all he can to help the people of Kalar against the plague that has rapidly spread over the world. Larren came to Kalar five years ago in the hope of finding Ash and Ash's mother. Larren needs to explain to them that he was framed for the genocide of Ash's race by the evil genius that is Admiral Neopol Jones. Larren has no idea that the much older, stronger and revengeful Ash is coming to hunt him down!

Luckily, Larren manages to overpower Ash and convinces him that he is not his true enemy. Larren lets Ash mind-touch him and read his thoughts, proving that Neopol killed the Delians. After the experience of mind-touch, Ash and Larren become like brothers as they have shared their minds, thoughts, memories and bodies together. Larren agrees to help Ash gain the revenge he seeks against Neopol and with the help of a vision, forms a plan to kill the serpent-like Admiral Jones!

What the two new friends don't realise is that Neopol has finally tracked them down! Neopol knows that together Ash and Larren are too powerful to capture. Instead, Neopol goes for the one thing that will bring Ash to his knees and that is Lindha! Ash and Larren must find a way to finally kill the evil Neopol before he tortures or murders Ash's beloved Lindha. But, will the two heroes do it in time? Or will the cunning Neopol finally capture Ash and Larren?

This was another great read from Susan Cartwright! I think the reason I love this series so much is because of the technology and worlds Cartwright creates in her novels. I think this is most apparent in her small paragraphs that start each new chapter. Each of these gives a little bit of background from the world Cartwright creates (I believe it's called Fluff?) and helps fill you in on past events which you may not have known otherwise. In addition, the detail in describing the planet of Opan and its atmosphere and animals really makes the book great to read. This is because the detail makes the world seem much more real and believable.

I also really liked the story, especially the end and the fact Ash and Larren teamed up to take on Neopol. I'll admit that I didn't enjoy the book as much as I did with Wolf Dawn. I think this was because I liked Ash a lot less in this novel, as his wolf side seemed to take over a lot, making him irritable and irritating! Nevertheless, the book was still a great read and I can't wait for the next instalment in the series!

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Susan's other book Wolf Dawn. I'd also suggest this book to anyone that is a fan of Seth Garnell's futuristic novel The Freedom Club or if you are a fan of sci-fi novels and want to try something new.

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