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.
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: 9 out of 10.
You can check out Sorcerer’s Duel for yourself on Amazon.
I have to start out this review by saying that this book surprised me, massively. I initially expected nothing more than a standard mediocre horror flick written by a semi-professional author, you know the kind you can find plastered all over the amazon kindle home page. Yet this is almost Stephen King level material, OK that may be an exaggeration but it is damn good.
The story has everything a King fan, myself included, could want, a deserted location, odd beyond belief characters, and of course innocent people who are new this god forsaken world.
This was a real page turner, it kept me on the balls of my feet right up until the end, my anxiety level rose page by page.
I shan’t spoil anymore.
While the book was a fast paced affair it did feel overly so, it was over before I personally would have wished, it gave more time to the horror and gore than it did to the development of the characters, a little more build up would have really helped prop up the emotional payoff of the horror.
This lack of a build up means you really don’t care all the much for the characters, making the actions of the novel gory and horrific but not overly harrowing.
We should have more time getting to know Coleen and Ky before they are thrown to the metaphorical wolves Rebecca Besser has planned for them.
Even with the lack of emotional entanglement though this book is a tense and compelling read. I found myself shouting at Ky during many a key moment. All told this does feel like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esq novel, with many a bloody and blood curdling moment. It is a thrilling and yet emotional page turner that will have you chewing on your lip from the first page until the last. I just wish it had been longer.
You can scare yourself silly with Undead-Drive-Thru on Amazon.
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: 7 out of 10.
You can check out Path to Vengeance for yourself on Amazon.
The Phoenix Conspiracy by Richard Sanders is a science-fiction novel set in a future Universe where mankind has managed to create a sprawling Empire stretching across a huge swath of the galaxy. Opposing them are two rival alien Empires.
On the face of it the Human Empire seems to be largely peaceful. However, a rogue captain attacks an innocent alien civilian convoy and quickly plunges the galaxy to the brink of war.
The hero (I guess I have to call him that), is Lieutenant Commander Calvin, Captain of an Intel Wing ship, which seems to be a sort of futuristic equivalent of the C.I.A. Calvin is tasked with finding this rogue Captain and bringing him to justice.
This he manages to do right at the beginning of the story, but when the Captain is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death everything goes tits up for Calvin. The captain is inexplicably able to take control of his transport ship and makes off into the inky blackness of space.
Calvin is sent off in pursuit. On board his ship though is a brand new XO, and I dont think there has ever been a more hateful character put to paper.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the books good points.
So here are the good points…erm….
It’s free. That’s always a big bonus if you’re looking to try something new.
The first 20-25% of the novel are actually quite good, at more than one point the plot dipped and twisted quite well giving me more than a few surprises. It is also well placed for the most part and never got boring, and to give him his due Calvin has his moments as a compelling well formed hero.
So ye that’s the good stuff. Sadly it’s not exactly a long list.
So anyway down to the bad bits, this part is a little longer I’m afraid.
First I’ll begin with the setting. This novel has a very Star Trek type feel to the Universe, sadly it feels even cheaper than Star Trek the Original series does in retrospect, which is no mean feat considering.
One of the novels weakest points for me was the technology available to our hero. Apparently even though humans have built large lumbering star-ship that blunder their way through the endless darkness of space, they also still rely on basic rifles, this in a universe where force-fields and shields exist. So primitive.
If technology has advance advanced enough to create force-fields why in hell are the marines and Special Forces still shooting piddly little pieces of shrapnel down corridors at alien enemies armed with superior weaponry?
One of the primary reasons I enjoy science-fiction is the creative worlds and technology that adorn their pages. Massive battleships firing highly charged laser beams across countless kilometres of space to crash into invisible shields and dissipate into nothing. Men armoured in huge battle suits and laser guns firing down numerous insectile enemies in narrow corridors filled with smoke and flickering lights. They are the sort of things many people expect from science-fiction, not bullet firing guns that wouldn’t look out of place now, a time where space flight is still in its infancy.
One of the biggest things to do when you write a sci-fi novel is think big, think monumental and go for it, sometimes the more insane the better, we want to see an exciting future full of new and exciting prospects and objects to discover and enjoy.
They even use paper. PAPER! Come on Richard give them an iPad or something. Hell what about giving Calvin a touch sensitive desk that doubles as a computer or a voice activated central computer and holographs. I’m reading about a futuristic human Empire battling for control of the Universe, give them some fun toys to do it with. Not paper. Who wants an intelligence officer buried under paper. I’d stake my life on the fact that the real C.I.A is light years ahead of the technology at the disposal of Calvin and his friends.
Always remember if your writing a science-fiction novel about great galactic wars make it big and make it exciting. Use your creativity.
But I can over-look the lack of any advanced technology, it is the characters that really make me want to pull my hair out.
2 dimensional doesn’t even begin to describe the characters that inhabit the pages of this book. Everyone is a clichéd stereotype, except for Calvin anyway. The women are beautiful and the men can’t help but lose their self-control in their presence. Even when the man and woman are at loggerheads the man will suddenly loses all of his self-control and fall under the spell of the woman.
Let’s look more closely at the two primary characters. Commander Calvin is supposedly a gifted young intelligence officer and brilliant captain. Yet he’s an habitual drug user who is regularly comatose in a drugged stupor when he should be on the bridge.
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,…
The first time I read this I couldn’t help but think; “Hold on a second…Why the hell should I care about him then?” And from then on I didn’t like him, I couldn’t have cared less what happened to him, and when the ship was taken from his control I couldn’t help but think he deserved it. And if you lose your readers belief and love for your character, especially your antagonist, then you have lost the reader.
But it was his second in command that really made me want to scream in frustration. Commander `bloody’ Presley, the most tight arsed officer who ever lived. Presley is from the Navy and as such is a stickler for the rules and discipline of the battleships, rules and discipline that Calvin has demolished on his more informal vessel.
Now on the one hand Calvin is an idiot and is unfit for military command, all his officers are friends and feel free to question his decisions, on this count Presley is right on the money, the ship is a shambles and really should be replaced with a better crew.
Yet Presley is such a two dimensional cardboard cut-out it is insanely infuriating and you’ll find yourself disagreeing with her just so you don’t agree with her. You will spend most of your time trying to work out how the author ever thought she was a viable addition to the story. At one point in the story the author actually writes this for her:
“She knew he was right, but didn’t want him to be.”
While that may not seem all that irregular, humans after all are very egocentric, its indicative of Presley’s entire character. She has to be right all the time no matter what, and no matter how much evidence to the contrary she has smashed into her face.
Any military commander will tell you to listen to the advice given to you and to act in the best interests of the unit not your ego, and sadly Presley is so damned egotistical she would sacrifice the whole galaxy so no one else could say she was wrong.
At one point she annoyed me so much it actually made me want to break my Kindle in half.
I think I’ve ranted on long enough and I apologise for chewing your ear off, I just struggle to understand the point of this novel. The story doesn’t really go anywhere and the story just ends abruptly, meaning you have to buy the sequels to learn anything. And those sequels are costly, especially for independently published novels.
Overall I’d say if you enjoy sci-fi books by all means give it a go, its free so you have nothing to lose, but don’t expect it to be a particularly fun read and don’t expect it to make any sense unless your then willing to pay for the next novel. I for one will never pay for the next books and don’t think I will ever lose any sleep not knowing the outcome of Calvin or Presley.