Sorcerer’s Duel Review

Before you read this review I’d suggest checking out my thoughts on the first book in the series.

W H Cann brings back Grogaan and his friends to take us on a brand new adventure into the heart of the inky darkness of space.

This time Grogaan and his soul-mate Ellarna learn to harness their magic and train to become Guardians. This is not a straightforward business however and the heroes are soon back to undertaking another dangerous mission where they will tempt fate more than once and attempt to deal a painful strike to the Empire.

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For me personally the first novel in the series lacked the emotional punch that could have made it a standout classic, I just didn’t really care about the characters who what would happen to them. Thankfully in Sorcerer’s Duel the emotional investment is much better.

For the first time I actually feel like I care about Grogaan and am willing him to succeed where so many others have failed. In Path to Vengeance I wouldn’t have minded if Cann had killed him off, at least that would have been unexpected, but in Sorcerer’s Duel he’s a different character and I hoped with each new page that he’d still be breathing.

But its not just the characters that are better in this second outing, everything is damn well better.

The story line is also a lot more fun, it’s more action packed and has a much quicker sense of pace than the original. Even Cann himself seems more comfortable with the futuristic fantasy world he has created, from reading this story I get the sense that the writing has been easier this time, I bet the characters are slightly clearer and the universe more colourful and vivid in his mind.

From reading this novel and comparing it with the first one it is as though I am looking literary evolution in the face. I have witnessed not only the evolution of a fantasy world but also the evolution of the author behind it. Cann has come on leaps and bounds since the first novel and has created a much more exciting read for all his hard work.

I look forward to future adventures.

Rating

Rating: 9 out of 10.

You can check out Sorcerer’s Duel for yourself on Amazon.

Path to Vengeance Review

With his father, brother and fiancée lying dead at the hands of Krelathan raiders, Grogaan’s life is ripped apart, he is consumed with grief, anger and rage. He vows to himself that he will have his revenge and he sets out on his ‘path to vengeance’ by purchasing four starfighters for him and his friends, which they extensively modify to give them the advantage in battle.

Grogaan battle against the trauma of his immense personal loss but no matter how much he tries he suffers from recurring bouts of severe depression.

No matter what he suffers through personally though he will find his vengeance.

Path to Vengeance was a rather entertaining read for me. As a lover of almost anything science-fiction I have read any book I can my hands on this genre and while Path to Vengeance may not be a standout classic it is an above average read and well worth a look if you have some free time on your hands.

Fair warning though the books opening is a bit of an uphill battle. There’s little emotion to be found in the opening scenes and it’s not until we explore Grogaans backstory that we have any feelings at all for his plight, though it’s not in ample supply.

When we do have that little more substance to his character though Grogaan is a somewhat likeable hero, he may not be a fun loving guy but after what he’s been through that is more than understandable.

There’s a handy surprise in store for our hero however as he soon discovers that he is in fact a wizard. Yes you heard me correctly, he is a WIZARD. Now like me you may immediately think of a Jedi and in a manner of speaking I guess the Jedi’s may have been the inspiration behind this development.

But after finishing the novel I think it is something different. This is a fantasy novel filled with magic but set in the future. Take any fantasy novel and move it forward a few thousands years and this is it. But Star Wars is fantasy over science-fiction so that’s still kind of the same thing, but this same concept is portrayed very differently.

Not only does this novel have magic wielding Wizards but there is enough tech in here to make an apple fan boy salivate with jealousy. From laser cannons and light-speed engines this novel has any creatively imaginable tech a sci-fi geek like me could wish for.

The only thing I could want to make this novel that all important must read is another edit or two. Some paragraphs, and even some entire scenes, simply aren’t necessary and it would really make the novel much easier to read if they were wiped out or drastically streamlined.

At some points the novel seems to drag on needlessly and the slog of reading it threatened to halt my progress altogether. Soldiering through though and the prize was well worth it. Beneath some points of poorly edited text this novel is a shining gem and it was an enjoyable read.

I am looking forward to the next novels in the series and I’m confident that the more W H Cann writes about this universe the better and easier it will become to read.

Rating

Rating: 7 out of 10.

You can check out Path to Vengeance for yourself on Amazon.

You can also check out my review of the second novel in the series, Sorcerer’s Duel.

The Amulet of Kings Review

The Amulet of Kings (The Banned Underground book series) By Will Jones was a fascinating novel to devour. It’s pages are filled to bursting point with all manner of magic, Dwarves, Witches, Wizards, Trolls and oddly enough, pizza boxes. It’s not hyperbole to say that this book was a righteous laugh from the first word right up until the very last.

The story introduces us to two siblings, a brother and sister, who begin the tale by moving in with their aunt and uncle in the lake district while their mother is in hospital. Things quickly go wrong when yogurts begin sprouting arms and legs and attacking anyone and everyone in their path. An evil contingent of Wizards lay siege to our heroes and we are soon treated to a brilliant battle of magic.

In an attempt to escape the attacking forces the children stumble into Fungus the Bog Troll who leads them into through a network of ancient tunnels and into the largely deserted city of the Dwarves, a complaining and bitter old race who have spent too long in the gloomy depths of the Earth. It is here that the story really begins.

Before I go any further I have to address the elephant in the room. This book is very Terry Pratchett-esq, from its plot-line, its characters and to their dialogue, this is a novel that is clearly inspired by the late great fantasy comedy king. And that’s not a bad thing of course, I’m a huge Pratchett fan – keep an eye open for an epic Pratchett undertaking coming soon – and many of the jokes and word plays found in The Amulet of Kings are just as good as those that can be found on the majestic surface of Disc World. There are of course a few jokes that don’t land particularly well, mostly thanks to some poor build up or just plain old bad delivery, but those I found to be in the minority.

Where Jones has differed greatly from Pratchett however is his novels placement in the real world. From Manchester to the Lake District this novel takes you on a wild journey through the English countryside. A countryside filled with witty Wizards, jazz loving Bog Trolls and the odd freaky Witch.

The books plot is pretty rudimentary, you won’t be surprised when reading this one, but with the focus being on well done comedy it doesn’t need to be a complex read. All The Amulet of Kings needs to do is entertain and delight the read, and that is two things it does very well indeed.

This is a book for anyway who would just like a nice simple read to make them laugh and to while away a few hours. It would be a great book to take away on holiday and read besides the sea or pool, where the humour and plain old silliness will keep you chuckling away right up until its grand finale.

If you’d like to experience this brilliant ride for yourself you can get The Kings Amulet on Amazon.

Rating

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Helens of Troy Review

How can I best describe Helens-of-Troy to you? I could say it’s simply like Twilight but without all the crap bits in there but then that doesn’t leave any Twilight left so that would be a poor example. One other review I have seen described it as Gilmore Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I have to say that’s not all that far wrong, although unlike Buffy it doesn’t make you want to scream in frustration through various points of high shrieking, poorly written plot lines.

Like Gilmore Girls, this book focuses upon the often turbulent relationships between three women, a grandmother, the mother, and the teenage daughter. Just like Rory the teenager, Ellie, is a sometimes sullen young girl struggling to break free of the barriers imposed upon her by her mother. And just like Rory she too appears to be older and wiser beyond the 15 years she has lived.

Unlike the Gilmore Girls however, it is the mother, Helen, who is the uptight woman who seems stuck in an age that has long since expired. Opposing her is the Grandmother, Helena, a rather eccentric ‘old’ woman prone to wearing revealing clothing in full view of the neighbours and entertaining a certain Police Officer in her bedroom.

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The novel begins with Helen and Ellie moving in with Helena (that’s a mouthful) in a small town called Troy. Things quickly escalate with a dead body being found on the Grandmother’s porch swing instead of the stuffed pieces of cloth being used to scare the trick-or-treaters.

Ellie doesn’t seem at all fazed by the dead body (a little strange but hey she’s probably grown up mowing things down on the Playstation), she is however slightly more scared the next morning after finding out her dream of a kidnapped young girl was actually a vision of the real event. A young girl has been taken from the town and no-one knows where she might be.

Clear panic ensues. But what Ellie isn’t telling people is that she knows who took the child. She knows the culprit is not within the realms of mortal understanding. It is a Vampire.

Now stop groaning right now otherwise I’ll put you in the naughty corner. Yes Vampires have recently been battered to death with the pen and paper of numerous writers (cough cough Meyer and Harris), and of course the money hungry corporate suits who wont be happy until they have bleed the Vampire species for all their non-existent blood. But this Vampire is different.

The Vampire inhabiting the pages of The Helen’s of Troy is very much a Dracula, Barlow esq type character who embraces his Vampire roots and has given in to the evil that inhabits his veins.

This is not some brooding ‘feel sorry for me I’m a vampire’ type ponce that has originated in recent years. This is a pure blooded daemon feasting upon children and seeking his revenge through whatever means necessary. And you know what? He’s damn funny for a dead guy.

But not all is lost. You see the Helens have a secret of their own, it is a secret the grandmother has embraced, that the mother has denied and that the daughter has yet to discover. They are special the Helens. Very special indeed. And they are the only hope against the encroaching darkness.

This book was a pleasure to read. Not only is it a nice chance from the rest of the modern Vampire drivel I’ve read but its witty and almost every chapter has one sexual innuendo or another, I laughed so often when reading this book that I started getting embarrassed with all the other people on the bus staring at me. But you know what? I don’t care. Every now and then you get a book that is so witty you can laugh at the same joke numerous times throughout the day. The jokes, the scenarios, the imagined looks on the characters faces keep screaming back into your mind throughout the day bringing a soft chuckle and a wide smile to your face. This is exactly what The Helens of Troy is. Yes there are a few grammatical and spelling mistakes that were missed during an edit but who bloody cares. I know what it’s supposed to say and 9 times out of ten its something that will rock my world.

The speech is fluid and dynamic, the description vivid and engaging, the characters funny and lovable.

I already miss Ellie’s ups and downs in making friends and falling for the local charmer. I loved old Helena and her inappropriate clothing and the mild mannered way in which she used her bosom to enthral the neighbour. And I even fell in love with Helen, she may be uptight, she may need a slap once in a while but she loves Ellie more than anything in the world and if there is one thing she can do to protect her daughter it is come to terms with the truth of who she is, and embrace it. To stop fighting the truth about what she and her family are and just go with the flow.

I loved this book and you can guarantee I will be reading it again before long. For a few days I can escape the boring monotony of the real world and once more fight alongside the Helens and get a few good laughs into the mix.

Go and grab your own copy of this book. You won’t regret it.

You can find it on Amazon here.

Rating

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Andor Awakening Review

When it comes to new authors the experience generally goes in one of two directions. More often than not you find yourself on a perilous slope that quickly puts you on your arse and sends you careering through brambles, thorns and all manner of sewage and nasty icky things. These first time writers are either too lazy or inexperienced to really unearth the true potential of what could very often be a good novel. Either that or their novel is just a really bad idea. As a reviewer these types of novels make you want to hit someone with a stick.

Anyway, without any further ado or how’s your father, let’s crack on with it.

Along with two other books I had this with novel with me when I went on holiday a few weeks back, I was finished with it in just over a day. I devoured it in almost one sitting, I even have the sunburn to prove it (blaming you for that Brendan).

I loved it, it was great read. The story line moved with such speed and ferocity that I was afraid to put it down for fear that it would all be over when I once more turned my gaze upon its pages.

This is a book that will not hook you in. No that’s not enough, this book will pretty much grab you by the neck, shake you around, and then pull you right into the war torn world of Shae.

One of the strongest points about this book though is the raw emotion that the author is able to not only put across to the reader but smash it into their face at the same time. You don’t so much read this book as experience it. From start to finish you are right there alongside the characters as they face whatever trials and tribulations are thrown at them. You are alongside Andor as he picks himself up, tries to find out who he is, what has happened to him and try’s to avoid becoming Razian pie.

The dialogue, plot and imagery is all one big thumbs up from me. This book simmers with a hidden power that is truly magnificent, not only is this book a great debut, it’s great period. A highly recommended read and I look forward to the next instalment.

You can grab your own copy of Andor Awakening from Amazon.

Rating

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Hero Book Review

If we take it at face value Hero seems like a simple run of the mill Tolkien-esq novel of grand adventure. It’s pages are filled with larger than like villains and a small unknown hero who is tasked with nothing short of saving the entire world. Sound’s familiar doesn’t it?

Unlike Frodo though the 16 year old Elf Saberen is a powerful central figure who proves that he is more than capable of holding his own against the rapidly encroaching darkness.

While Tolkein built a vast network of supporting characters in everyone’s favourite fellowship, Ben Smith forgoes this in favour of focusing on just two primary travellers. While this works exceedingly well at the beginning of the story it does begin to feel flimsy and strained towards the latter portion of the novel.

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Andor Awakening Review

When it comes to new authors the experience generally goes in one of two directions. More often than not you find yourself on a perilous slope that quickly puts you on your arse and sends you careering through brambles, thorns and all manner of sewage and nasty icky things. These first time writers are either … Continue reading “Andor Awakening Review”

That being said though Hero is a well-crafted and very enjoyable read that can’t fail to entertain. I took the book on holiday with me and I devoured the entire book from cover to cover in just over a day. I promptly passed it around my family and they each enjoyed it just as much as I did. Even my girlfriend who has a past with disliking fantasy books begrudgingly admitted a passing enjoyment of Hero, and that’s a bigger compliment than I could ever hope to give. If your novel is enjoyed by so many people with so many different tastes you know you have a good book.

My favourite aspect of Hero, comes not from its sweeping vistas of imaginative mountains or the epic adventure that sees Saberen pulled roughly from his comfortable life and thrust into a quest for the good of the entire world. No. For me the greatest aspect of this novel are the similarities of my adventures in the fictional worlds created by The Elder Scrolls Series.

Climbing a narrow path up a mountain to the mysterious cave at the top and the sudden, often heart pounding, appearances of various monsters and wild animals are paralleled almost seamlessly with Saberen’s adventures across Havaen. Hero is without a doubt one of the best Fantasy novels I have read recently. It is exciting, beautiful and all around bloody marvellous.

It is already back on my shelf waiting for me to get a few spare hours for me to re-join Saberen on his journey.

You can grab a copy of the book for yourself on Amazon.

Rating

Rating: 8 out of 10.