Reviews

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Naomi’s Reading Palace: There’s so much that happened in this book, that I didn’t think would ever happen! I loved seeing the change for Fitz and Buckkeep. There were numerous times that tears welled in my eyes, some of happiness, others due to sadness. I also loved how the whole family banded together in times of need. Robin Hobb is an amazing Fantasy writer, and I love how each time I pick up one of her books, I am swept away in her world. The details that are in each book pull you in so that you feel like you are there along with the characters. I am emotionally attached to all of them; I smile when they are happy, my heart aches when things are hard and I cry in times of sadness. This book was an amazing journey and I am left on edge, wondering if they will all make it back alive!  Read more.

SamHawkeWrites: God, this book. As we near the end of 20 years of storytelling in this world, each layer on the Farseer story becomes more finely tuned, more exquisitely complete in its exploration of the lives of the characters. My heart hurts just thinking about the end next year. After so many stories, so many intertwined characters and plotlines and long term plans that we have glimpsed, fragmented, over the last 14 books, Hobb manages to bring them together so masterfully that you cannot doubt she (or possibly more accurately, at least in part her subconscious) has been perfectly controlling every thread the entire time. She throws the contents of a kaleidoscope into the air but when it lands the thousands of little chips form a seamless, effortless, inevitable picture. I don’t know how this story will finally resolve next year: what I do know is that it will be a viscerally satisfying conclusion of a journey I have travelled for two decades. That, and I’m probably going to cry some more. Read more.

 YA and Fantasy Book Reviews:What made me want to read A Crucible of Souls was that it had won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2013 and it was the first self-published novel to that title. Impressive. So what does an awarded winning author with the backing of a major publishing company produce? Pure Brilliance … It is due to Hogan’s brilliant writing that by the time the reader has finished the book very few answers have been provided but the reader is rich in the knowledge of the world that Hogan has created. Read more.

Nicole Has Read…:Some old friends make appearances, including some we thought never to see again, and there are some poignant moments for Fitz, and for us, as he realises he’s not as isolated and friendless as he’s always believed. To be able to visit this world, and these characters, again is such a pleasure. At times my heart soared, and at others it broke into tiny little pieces. 20 years of world building has gone into this book, and it shows. There is so much detail for those who’ve read all of the books in this world. I love the little nods to previous events that the reader will only pick up on if they’ve read all of the different series. As with the first book, the ending had me groaning in frustration and wishing that the next book was already available. I love the characters, I love the world, and I love Robin Hobb’s particular brand of story telling. Read more.


A Crucible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan

Ryan W. Mueller: [ based on self-published e-book edition] Hogan separates his story from others like it by making his main character sympathetic and through strategic utilization of other point-of-view characters. They bring new layers into the story, and Amerdan is an absolutely fascinating character. I wouldn’t want to read an entire book about him, but I found Hogan gave him just the right amount of page-time … Overall, if you’re a fan of the modern update on classic fantasy (think Sanderson, not Abercrombie), this is well worth reading.  Read more. Grace Books of Love:  One of the most enthralling books that I’ve read. I literally couldn’t put this book down. Caldan and the people he meet are definitely unforgettable. I also found myself loving the journey that Caladan is on and the world that Mitchell Hogan has built. Plus the interweaving subplots are definitely interesting and play a much bigger part than what first appears. I totally found the twists spellbinding and unexpected. They were unexpected because I never expected certain things to happen or for certain characters to take certain actions. Plus some secrets were revealed. … I totally loved this first book in this series. Read More.

SmashDragons: So what did I love about this book? EVERY-DAMN-THING!

 Like I mentioned earlier, A Crucible of Souls scratched that itch that was bugging me for years on end. It features everything that I love about big fat epic fantasy. It has a central character who basically embarks on a ‘Hero’s Journey’, an enthralling and incredibly amazing world that blew my brain sideways (I mean come on… magically enhanced golems people), and a unique and captivating magic system that frankly is among my favourites ever written (and I’m a Sanderson fan!). But it also goes even further. Hogan embraces what is truly great about traditional epic and sword and sorcery fantasy and its tropes and blends it with more modern elements to make it a fantastic read. The characterisation throughout the story, from Caldan right down to the lowliest peasant, is strong and full of agency and depth … Read More.
Just A  Guy Who Likes to Read: I love books that demand the readers attention and also provide multiple plot threads throughout the course of the narrative and A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS does just that. There are so many tantalizing threads left hanging that I can’t wait for next years follow-up to see where author Mitchell Hogan take Caldan and co. Read More.

The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien

Delicate Eternity: I am probably the only person whose first Tolkien read was The Story of Kullervo. I mean, it’s an unfinished draft of a story that is also a retelling of a Finnish ballad. But I loved it. If this is what an unfinished draft of Tolkien’s work reads like (and also his first foray into fiction at all), then I am seriously in for a treat when I, one day, pick up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. My favourite aspect of this part of the novel, by far, was the several alternate endings that Tolkien explored. I loved seeing his word shortenings (K for Kullervo, and the such), and also how clear his thoughts were. He’d outline one ending, and then write “or” before the next. I just loved how incredibly personal this was, and how much insight it gave into the kind of thought processes that Tolkien went through when deciding on the ending of this tale. It gave such an intimate feel to the whole thing, which is why it was my favourite aspect of this novel as a whole.  Read more.

 

Zeroes by Chuck Wendig

Reader in the Tower: Short Version: It’s a good sign when you enjoy a book so much when it’s completely “against your type”. The main drawcard, I felt, was Wendig’s short, snappy prose, and how expertly he uses it to move his story along. If you’re baffled and sometimes bored with long descriptive paragraphs or pages of explanatory backstory, never fear. Wendig is the writer for you. You’ll find yourself whipped along by the pace of his writing, without feeling like he’s skipping anything important Read more.

Just a Guy That Likes to Read: Author Chuck Wendig knows how to write dialog and here he makes each character leap off the page, notably with Reagan as he bitch slaps the reader making you to concentrate on her every action. With such a diverse range of characters it was a pleasure to read them as distinct individuals with unique voices and mannerisms. As far as the plotting and pacing goes ZER0ES is faultless. The story evolves from tech thriller to the unearthly sci-fi and then back again with seamless ease all the while keeping the reader glued to the pages.  I’m a big fan of Chuck Wendig and can gladly say that ZER0ES doesn’t disappoint. Read More.

The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind

Impulse Gamer: you really should check out The First Confessor: The Legend of Magda Searus because it’s a great history lesson about the amazing world of Richard and Khalan which introduces the Confessors and The Sword of Truth, but more importantly, it’s very well written and brings forth some amazing characters that really compliment this amazing series. Reading this book again really makes you appreciate the elaborate world that Goodkind has created. 4.5/5 stars! Read more.

 

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

Sean Blogs now: I’ve read that The Liars Key is not a redemption tale. I think it absolutely is. Perhaps not for Jalan, but for the reader. We may not like to admit it, but we all have the same feelings as Jalan, the same weaknesses, and it’s in the ownership of these that we, like Jal, become more. Like it or not, most of us are more Jal than Snorri, and it’s that acceptance which drives this story … A wonderful story with a fantastic setting, and a very important message at its core. And it’s damn fun too. Read more.

 

SmashDragons: The world of the Broken Empire is finally fleshed out more in this book in all of its gritty and epic glory. One of the deepest pleasures I had with Mark’s original trilogy was deciphering the clues about the setting and the catastrophic events the led to its forging. This continues in The Liar’s Key, with the reader seeing a much greater breadth of the world through Jalan’s eyes. There are modern references littered through the text, and the world is depicted and described in a richer and fuller way then ever before. It is a dark and dangerous place, but damn it is addictive! All in all The Liar’s Key is simply amazing. Lawrence continues to grow as a writer (which in itself is fucking incredible seeing as his debut was mind blowing) and storyteller with this release. I adored every single page of this book, and I can’t wait to find the time to reread it in full again. If fantasy was a drug then The Liar’s Key would be the most pure and addictive form of heroin known to humanity! An absolute must read for anyone with a functioning brain and a heartbeat.

 5 out of 5 stars.  Read more.

 The Newtown Review of Books: Lawrence uses the first-person narration very stylishly. We learn much about the characters through Jalan’s thoughts. He is such a jerk, but we know somehow that he must change, for his self-assessments make him rather charming. Perhaps the book could be called ‘The Education of Young Jalan’. So many of the adventures and insights into the characters of his companions should make him think – but he doesn’t, at least not yet. He does have a great deal of self-knowledge. He makes frequent self-deprecatory analyses of himself and his wishes and it is this that makes the book ironically funny. He often seems very brave yet it is usually a mistaken assessment. He admires Snorri and his fellow travellers but clearly doesn’t let this admiration get in the way of looking after his own interests first … The possibility of opening the Dead King’s door is the fulcrum of this story but there are no certainties in this splendidly picaresque tale. The travellers have continual adventures involving magic and blood and even trolls. Prince Jalan may not be the usual lower-class hero of such tales but he is certainly a rogue. This is a fast-moving and engaging story. Book Three will be welcome. Read more.

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Dark Matter Zine: Lord Grimdark has done it again. He concludes his YA/adult crossover trilogy with a bloodbath and darkly realistic international politics. OMG, I have summed up an entire book in one sentence. But, because it’s expected, I’ll waffle a little more … Abercrombie is back in his blood-and-guts element, with flashes of black humor like in The Heroes. Romance is interwoven in the narrative because it’s a part of the human story. The end of the story is satisfying and yet there is plenty of scope for more stories set in this world; this is no saccarine-sweet happy-ever-after, but a gritty installment like you’d expect in real life. Although, in real life, I’d avoid scaling cliffs, bloody battles and people bearing poison. 4/5 stars! Read more.

 SmashDragons: Half a War is a fitting finale to what has arguably been one of the most interesting and unique set of books I’ve read in recent times. In true Joe Abercrombie fashion he kicks in the door from the opening pages, dazzles us with a smile, and proceeds to render wholesale death, vengeance, and destruction on levels that are best left whispered about behind closed doors! …  All in all Half a War, when considered as a part of a series, is a magnificent book that finishes what has been a scintillating post apocalyptic pseudo-Viking adventure of the highest order. Is it as strong as Half a King (the first book in this trilogy)? No. It has its weaknesses (which I have expressed above) when compared to that brilliant debut, but damn it is still a cracking read that is well worth checking out. I loved it, despite its flaws.  Read more.

SFFWorld: I believe this latest trilogy from Abercrombie is up there with the strongest work he’s done to date, being more focused and efficiently plotted than much contemporary epic fantasy … Those that felt disappointed by the YA tones of the previous book may be interested to hear that, as far as this trilogy goes, Half a War is the book most like the Abercrombie of old. There’s lots of gritty violence and the book is also very raunchy for its age bracket, though most of the actual sex happens just off page … a splendidly executed conclusion to a very rewarding trilogy. I like Abercrombie in this lean, mean YA mode, and I hope he takes some of the skills his honed in this trilogy with him when he returns to writing more “adult” fiction. Read more.

Aurealis: A beheading, tumultuous midnight deception and sea-bound escape within the first ten pages. Abercrombie does not mince around. Violence, but not gratuitous violence. All the details serve to envelop the reader in a harsh, gritty world that comes with it’s own illustrative language … This is a novel that demonstrates great craft, and it is impossible not to get hooked in to. Well worth the wait, Half a War is a glorious end to the series.Tarnished, Abercrombie-style glory.  To read more subscribe here.

Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne

Dark Matter Zine: Hostage Girl, aka Gail, has set records for being taken hostage more times than any other human alive. Blaze, the superhero who regularly comes to her rescue, has green eyes suspiciously like Gail’s boyfriend… who dumps her while she’s in hospital. Jeremy, aka asshat bf, is taking off for greener pastures: in this case, Miami. Superheroes Anonymous doesn’t just pass the Bechdel Test, it crushes it and comes back for more. Here we have superhero equity — race and gender — and we’re seeing the community from Gail’s point of view so we have lots of girl-chats. In between Angelique beating up Gail as part of Gail’s training. I’m giving Superheroes Anonymous 3 and a half stars. Feisty fighting females rock. More please. Read more.

 

Convergence by David M. Henley

 SmashDragon:   The epic conclusion to Henley’s astounding science fiction series has finally arrived. First impression. Amazing. Second impression. Stunningly amazing. So basically, I loved this book. Convergence is everything I want from a great science fiction story. It is immersive, challenging, thoughtful and gripping. I was hooked from the start and it steadfastly refused to let me go until the very end in what was an amazing and very satisfying conclusion to the series. An absolute must read for anyone even remotely interested in speculative fiction, Convergence is a stunning and extraordinary vision of a possible future reality! One of my favourite reads of the year so far!

A well deserved 5 out of 5 stars! Read more.

Impulsegamer: [Convergence] definitely has parallels to Akira, especially how the protagonist Pierre Jnr powers have grown immensely that has the entire population under his control like something out the film The Matrix. As a result, book 3 is a much more darker novel and really challenges this futuristic premise quite well and is aptly titled Convergence as the entire world definitely converges in the final book with key stakeholders trying to cement their own worlds.

To compliment the vivid storytelling, David M. Henley should be commended on his excellent writing skills as the book flows quite well, with only a few sections of the book stalling. I also enjoyed how he used some real world themes in this futuristic novel that not only had an element of cyberpunk but also some great drama and very interesting characters.

All in all, it’s the perfect way to conclude this unique and entertaining series.  Read more.

 

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

 The Register:  The pace is fast, the detail rich and as readers are asked to contemplate our place in the cosmos we see humanity at its most spiteful, trivial and counter-productive but also at its most resourceful and ingenious. Those competing qualities orbit each other tightly, tied together like some of the space habitats Stephenson devises. The book’s contemplative core and high stakes action are also coupled, but uneasily because the book takes a big risk that I suspect will cause problems for a lot of readers. Appreciators of hard science fiction and those who like their satire intertwined with action should findSeveneves to their liking. Those who like their stories linear and neat may be frustrated and delighted in equal measure. Read more.

Brisbane Times: As one critic once said, never expect “nerdy novellas from Stephenson”. Seveneves begins dramatically, “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason “. Stephenson has said in an interview, “I wanted it to be a book about something really bad happening that we just had to deal with, without a lot of thinking about the whys and wherefores” … Stephenson once told me in an interview for The Canberra Times, that he never writes the same book twice. Seveneves reaffirms that tradition, although it would have benefited from more ruthless editing. Seveneves blends many aspects of science, especially astrophysics, robotics and bio-engineering into [an] … undoubtedly epic, SF narrative. Stephenson is a science geek extraordinaire. Read more.

Sydney Review of Books: Seveneves is not, it should be stressed, a conservative book. There is nothing in it comparable to, say, the long diatribes about the moral necessity for military dictatorship that lard every Robert Heinlein novel. But nor does Stephenson’s enthusiasm for science coincide with the gee-willikers liberal optimism of Golden Age science fiction … if the book cannot be reduced to an allegory about the threat of climate change, nor can it be separated from the context in which it has emerged. Indeed, it provides an effective and rather chilling illustration of the neoliberal imagination. ‘The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason’ – that is the very first line of the novel, a sentence in which the catastrophe engulfing Earth is simply presented as a given. Not only can we not save the world, we should not even wonder about why it is ending. All we can do is make the best of our new circumstances. Read more.

 

Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

 SmashDragons:   I’m really struggling to find anything negative to say about Beyond Redemption. It is dark fantasy at its finest, with an original and highly fascinating universe that just blew my mind to mush over and over again.  Beyond Redemption is one of the most mind bending, gory, and twisted reads I’ve had since I first stumbled across a newbie by the name of Joe Abercrombie back in the day. Set to land on June 16th, Beyond Redemption is highly recommended to all dark fantasy fans with a functioning brain and beating heart! 5 out of 5 stars!

Read more. Sachin Dev on Goodreads: This one’s going to feature pretty high up on the list of fantasy lovers’ this year – Guaranteed runaway winner with it’s startlingly original narrative, evocative world building and absolutely fantastic characterization that is the very opposite of run-of-the-mill. It was these myriad characters who actually made this book a winner for me – making it work at different levels for a fantasy reader like me … Those who dare and need their books to be “different” – Beyond Redemption is a rip roaring tale of darkness and violence in a brilliantly imagined Fantasy world where nothing is real. Not even your emotions. Read more.

The View From My Bookshelf:  At first glance, this book appears to be like many other grimdark books. Grim and, you guessed it, violent. Oh, and dark, too. Honestly, if that’s what you’re coming for, you will not be disappointed. Honestly, if you like dark fantasy, this book is worth reading for the magic system alone.

That’s just on the surface, though. The amazing thing about this book is that there are so many layers underneath the blood and gore. There are real characters here with dynamic personalities. Not only that, but Fletcher really uses unreliable narrators to their fullest extent. You can never be quite sure if the current viewpoint character’s understanding of a situation is what actually going on. They guess at each other’s intentions, and sometimes they are right. More often than not, they’re wrong.Readmore.

Emily the Book Addict: Fletcher has written a brilliant fantasy novel, using real-world mental illness as a starting point for his creation. It is just such a simple, yet awesome idea! It was fascinating seeing the manifestations of mentally ill people controlling the world. It was really interesting to learn about the many different illnesses through the lens of a fantasy realm. There is also a really helpful guide at the back of the book which describes each type of Geisteskranken and the mental illness it is based on. It’s not often that I can say I learnt a lot from a fantasy novel, but I really did. 4.5/5 stars Read more.

MightyThorJRS:  Is this book dark, with some violence and sex? Yes, but it is so much more than that. Dark fantasy, grimdark, or whatever you want to call it. I guess it can be classified like that if you want. All I know that it is a damn good book and in my top two books I have read all year. Hell, to be honest this is probably one of the best books I have read since I started reading fantasy again in 2011. This book might not be for everybody but it was for me and I am grateful for the chance to read it. I hope we get some more from the world of MANIFEST DELUSION very soon!  Read more.

 

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

 

BookNerd Reviews:  An Ember in the Ashes is a compelling and enthralling story that will grab you with all of its oppressiveness, determination, brutality, rawness and just an ember of hope. Brutality in the forms of violence and oppression is a huge aspect of the book, the one thing that dominates the storyline and it is done so in such a powerful and mesmerising way. The threat of violence is at every turn in this book from the Martial Empire, and they have left very little room for hope. The writing is engrossing and gorgeous, with fantastic world building even though this is a horrible world filled with despair and terrible people. Slow-paced with action in just the right places, this story is sure to suck you in with its depth and complexities. An Ember in the Ashes is also filled with some amazing characters in this story, from the Masks who suffer and cause suffering, to the despicable and truly heinous Commandant, to the Augurs who deliver prophecies that are riddled and confusing (and that may actually end in way that none of us like). This book will bring out feelings of rage and hatred. You will fall deep into the Empire, suffer along the characters and cling on to any little ray of hope that you can find. An Ember in the Ashes is gripping and mesmerising, and it will leave you desperate for more.  Read more.

SmashDragons: Ok let me get one thing out of the way from the start… I don’t usually read much YA fiction. It’s not that I have anything against YA books, because I don’t, I just have so much to read from other genres that I usually don’t have much time to delve into the YA market. But after reading An Ember in the Ashes I now realise that I need to make more time. I absolutely loved this book, for so many reasons that are too numerous to address properly within the confines of this review. I will however try and give you some idea about why you should immediately run out and buy it! All in all An Ember in the Ashes is a one of the most poetic yet brutal reads I’ve had in years. Laced with tender compassion and hope amidst a world of dark and vicious brutality, Tahir has masterfully weaved a magnificent tale of love, humanity, and destiny. Read more.

InfinityReads: Sabaa Tahir’s writing is so raw and honest. I like how she doesn’t spend so much time on defining the action but the emotions the characters feel as they’re taking a life or are losing someone. The world building in this world was also amazing as the history of the Empire, the different “castes” etc. were explained and I didn’t happen to get confused! As it is highly obvious, I loved this book and it was a powerful read. First time in a very long time I was actually engrossed in my reading.  Read more.

Brett Michael Orr ( with guest reviewer Cassie The Weird): Cassie: When they said “A villain who makes Cersei Lannister and Dolores Umbridge look like a pair of pathetic amateurs” (MTV), they weren’t freaking kidding. The bad guys were truly horrible people, nothing was held back. When something bad was about to happen…it actually happened. No last minute ‘oh-thank-goodness-that-didn’t-actually-happen’ moments, which seem to frequent other novels. I mean, there were several times where I was legitimately worried that a major character was going to die…and sometimes they actually did. Like I said, brutal. Brett:  Ember is engaging and almost impossible to put down – the reader is drawn into the characters’ lives, consumed by the brutality of the world, and on-edge for the entire novel, just praying their favorite character doesn’t meet some horrible death or punishment. There are certainly some loose ends that will undoubtedly form part of the second novel, which at the moment seems impossibly far away – and meanwhile, the community will start to discuss their own fan theories to solve the unexplained mysteries and secrets.I’m giving An Ember in the Ashes 4/5 stars. Cassie: I finished this book at 4:30 in the morning, and let me tell you: I regret nothing!  This was an incredible book, and I would absolutely recommend it to everyone.A word of warning, though: in case you didn’t already pick up on it, this book is not for the faint of heart. 5/5 stars. Read more.

Emily the Book Addict: This is a difficult book to review, because I adored it so much. The characters, the world, the plot, the danger, the magic – this book has so many intertwining elements, all of which are executed perfectl … The world has Roman and Greek influences. While the Martial names are mostly taken from Latin (can I pretend my studies are useful now?), the rigorous and hierarchical training program reminded me very strongly of the Spartans. Yet, it is never too similar – it is still overwhelmingly novel and just pretty amazing!  … If my own love for the novel doesn’t convince you, the story has already been optioned by Paramount Pictures in a seven-figure movie deal. It an amazing debut, and I cannot wait for the next books in the series. I am so excited to see where Tahir takes all the characters next, though terrified at the same time for their lives! Read more.

Happy Indulgence: Brutal, complex and absolutely riveting, An Ember in the Ashes really swept me away with it’s multi-layered plot and complex character relationships. There’s different power plays, a brewing resistance and so much at stake for both Elias and Laia, and I was absolutely hooked. With the brutal cliffhanger at the end, the next book couldn’t come soon enough! 4.5/5 stars Read more.

BookNerdigans: I know this is a very Stereotypical thing to say in a review but… The very first page had me sucked in. The start was magnificent. The introduction effortlessly transformed and before you know if, you’re half way through. After only 5 or 6 pages, I knew the some of the main characters, as well as who they are and what they are like, the setting and the direction that this plot was heading in. It was a perfect way to introduce such a complex book …  Sabaa Tahir has a talent. I can hardly believe that this is a debut. AEITA has the writing of an experienced professional yet it is also fresh. New. Exciting. The writing remained consistent at a high level throughout the entire novel. Read more.

The Rest is Still Unwritten: An Ember in the Ashes is actually a really interesting book. Author Sabaa Tahir has clearly thought really hard and put a lot of work into detailing her complex world. The society within An Ember in the Ashes is a mix of ancient Rome with a hint of dystopia; there is magic, evil and many secrets to be discovered within. There’s so much unknown within this tale and I like that I still feel like there’s so much to be discovered.   Tahir details an intriguing world of magic, danger and war in An Ember in the Ashes. There’s almost a medieval feel to it at times, and this blends well with the developing storyline as well as the main characters and the minor ones to create a very engrossing read. The storyline is still clearly developing but Tahir has won me over with the mystery surrounding her main characters destinies and their purposes. Powerful wise men known as Augurs hint at a bigger picture for both Laia and Elias and I for one cannot wait to discover what that may be. Read more.

Positive by David Wellington

An Adventure in Words: Wellington has cleverly put a new spin on an overstuffed genre. There’s heart inPositive, solid characters, and a storyline that doesn’t dawdle along examining all the minutiae which bogs down some of these post-apocalyptic stories. It’s the bookWalking Dead viewers should read when they still want zombies, but need a fresh take. The only thing I didn’t love about the book was that it ended. I didn’t want to leave the characters or the Positive world behind.

Wellington is an accomplished writer with a great story to tell in the ilk of The Passage, The Road, and even Stephen King’s The Stand. For all those zombie and horror snobs, jump in to this novel and get your reading hands bloodied, so to speak. You may be surprised how enjoyable the genre is when you’re in the hands of a talented writer. I still may not be a zombie fan, but I’m now firmly a David Wellington fan.   Read more.

The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

Mia’s Reviews on Goodreads:  THE SKULL THRONE is a fat, 704-page tome, but it is dense and packed with more than any word count can indicate. It reveals details of so many characters’ lives– the relationships of Rojer, Amanvah and Sikvah, Ashia and Asome, Leesha and Thamos; a peak into Sharum’ting training, the art and science of herb gathering, and so many others that make the world of the DEMON CYCLE vivid and palpable. Everyone has come a long way since THE WARDED MAN… Once again, the women take center stage in THE SKULL THRONE. While Arlen and Jardir appear the marquee heroes of this series, the women are its true movers and shakers. Unlike many stories, this one would be sparse, boring, practically catatonic sans the women. They are the rudders to the men’s engines, the wind moving and directing their sails … This is a corespawned awesome book and I really, really, really –REALLY– want the next one.  Read more.

Smash Dragons:  The Skull Throne is another cracking instalment from Brett that should satisfy most fans and leave them hungry for more. Brett skilfully continues to build upon the layers of his world as he sets things up for the big finale in the next book. I for one cannot wait to see what is going to happen next, and I would recommend this book to anyone with even a remote interest in speculative fiction.  4 out of 5 stars! Read more.

 

The Vagrant by Peter Newman

Best Fantasy Books.com:  Never had I known so little about an author and their book, but be so enraptured at the same time. I received an ARC copy a couple of weeks back and only just got to it after reading The Autumn Republic. I didn’t read the blurb at the back, so I had no prior knowledge at all. The Vagrant is a man on a mission. He is walking towards the Shining City, which is the last bastion of the human race. He has only his pack, a sword and a new born baby …

Without reading the blurb, you don’t know what The Vagrant’s mission is and I think that is a good thing, so I won’t tell you here. Is it what’s in his pack, himself or the baby? The setting while at first seems like a typical fantasy book, it isn’t … While I was reading, I was made comparisons with The Gunslinger by Stephen King. How it is about one man, alone, gruff and deadly. The difference is, The Vagrant has more mystery and the story moves more quickly … I know it is only mid April, but I would say that The Vagrant might be the best debut fantasy novel in 2015.  Read more. The Vagrant will be available in May 2015

Brett Michael Orr: A debut novel needs to do only one thing – it should firmly cement its author’s name in the minds of readers and within the genre itself, a physical prophecy that foreshadows the author’s future success. THE VAGRANT by Peter Newman is one such novel – a teaser at the brilliance that surely lies ahead in Newman’s career as a professional author … THE VAGRANT is a must-read debut novel for anybody with even a passing interest in fantasy. Grimdark is a curious sub-genre of fantasy, but Peter Newman has gone beyond an ordinary tale of a knight on a mission of holy salvation, instead painting a more complex picture that muddies the boundary between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Read more.

Emily the Book Addict:  The story definitely does get better the further in you get, as you slowly start to understand the world. However, it is a lengthy process. While this has not been a favourite for the year, I will be keeping an eye out for Peter Newman’s future works. He definitely has the foundations of a great fantasy author – I just wish I knew more about the world he has created! It left me feeling frustrated! People who prefer a stronger focus on the character and are less mindful of the world will really enjoy this book – the characters are truly brilliant. Read More.

Abduction by Alan Baxter

 SmashDragon: Baxter has continued to improve with each book, and Abduction is arguably his finest work yet. The twists and turns left me reeling, and the ending was both surprising and very satisfying. Baxter has now reached the milestone of being an author whose work I immediately buy without question now, such is his talent for weaving a great story.  Abduction is a fantastic tale filled with magical splendour and pools of bloody and violent realism. I would highly recommend it (and the rest of Baxter’s work) to anyone with a beating heart and functioning brain. 4 out of 5 stars  Read more.

 

Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind

SmashDragons:  What made this book for me was its ending. It almost felt like Goodkind was cruising at until the end. The finale of the story was gripping and incredibly tragic, and it took me back to how I felt when I first read Wizard’s First Rule … A major improvement over previous works, I hope Goodkind continues to write and get back to producing works similar to his early books.  Read more.

 

 

A Fistful of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith

 Koeur’s Book Reviews: This was a really well done novel. Great character and story line development and an overall plot that was good to the end …It is nice to experience a person moving from deplorable into the Western hero he imagines himself to be. What we get in the end is not Angel Eyes or Blondie in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” but Tuco with a conscience … Read more.

SFBookReviews:  Occasionally a book and a writer comes along that breaks rules left right and centre, but does so with panache and style that makes you tip your hat. The beginning of A Fistful of Clones clearly sets it out to be one of those books; an accessible science fiction comedy that immediately endears, the author clearly subjugating all the dos and don’ts to a quirky indulgent style that matches the neuroses of the main character, Henry.

The sketch of our hero is refreshingly honest and clear. An everyman at a low point in life, Henry isn’t doing well, fired from his going nowhere job and quickly abandoned by his girlfriend, his only consolations are wine and old western films.

The plot is equally accessible, setting up a ‘what if’ scenario for us involving a mysterious doctor, lack of employment and a lucrative ‘medical testing’ opportunity as a substitute for real work. Agreeing to give up a little hair, blood and semen to a stranger seems like a small price in exchange for enough money to pay the bills for three months. Henry didn’t even read the forms … Read more.

 OnlineBookClub: What constitutes a life? Is a life worth less when it has been created as a result of genetic modification?  A Fistful of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith requires readers to consider the questions above. Kay-Smith has a gift for description. The settings and various locations in this novel are depicted with just enough detail, allowing readers to picture everything in their minds, without being smothered by too many adjectives. The dialogue is equally wonderful. The conversations between characters give the right amount of insight into their own thoughts and motives, while advancing the plot … I give A Fistful of Clones 4 out of 4 stars, and I recommend it to those who enjoy science fiction and moral dilemmas. … Read more.

Sci-Fi Bloggers: One of the most basic laws of good storytelling is that the characters need to carry the story. And that is often something that gets messed up, sometimes to a spectacular degree. So when a book gets that right, then I can declare it good. And when it’s clever, and funny, and paced well, and perhaps most of all, honest, I can declare it great. And even if it might have a few flaws, and not explore some interesting concepts as far as I would personally have liked, I can even go so far as to call it excellent. It does so many things right that it outshines all its faults. In a short sum-up, this book is a piece of candy: small, sweet, and full of flavor. It’s dark fun from beginning to end.   Read more.

Catherine Rose Putsche Book Blog: Seaton Kay-Smith has created a story that is well written, inventive and clever with genuine laugh-out-loud humour that is entirely effortless and entertaining to read. It’s almost like the disarming and friendly style in which it was written wraps you up in the story and refuses to let go. Each character, especially Henry, who is my favourite, is equally flawed, believable and realistic and complements the plot’s cause and effect beautifully. This is a novel that will stay with me for some time and is definitely one not to be missed and I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more of the author’s work in the near future. My Ranking: 5 Stars  Read more.

Bill’s Book Reviews: When I first started reading A Fistful of Clones, I didn’t really get it. Then it grew on me. I finally came to the conclusion that it felt like a movie. Kind of like one of the Coen Brothers films, think Fargo. The characters were all just a little off. Nothing was quite normal, but then once I got used to them, I started to see the humor in nearly everything that was happening. It was just absurd, but in a good way … I give A Fistful of Clones 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready for a subtly funny book, filled with odd characters, in odder situations, written by a new Australian author, then A Fistful of Clones is the book for you. Read more.

BattleAxe: 20th Anniversary Edition by Sara Douglass

 SmashDragons: Where do I begin in reviewing arguably one of my all time favourite fantasy books? Perhaps the best way to do it is to provide some context. I first read Battleaxe when I was 14 in 1996. I distinctly remember walking into the bookstore and browsing over the shelves in search of something to read. After initially finding nothing of interest I went to leave, feeling disappointed and frustrated. As I turned my eyes fell upon a copy of Battleaxe that was tucked neatly on the shelves below my eye level. The cover wasn’t eye-catching, but the premise sounded fascinating. On a whim I decided to give it a go, and I haven’t looked back since … Read more.

ImpulseGamer: As mentioned Battleaxe is still a powerful read that really adds itself well to this genre and is filled with passion, not just from the characters but also the writing of Douglass that successfully takes the reader on a wondrous and dangerous journey as we follow Axis and his supporting cast on an evolutionary journey that will lead him to the deadly secrets of his people that will force him to question the very societal structures that have held his people together for a millennium. With fascinating characters and easy to read writing, it’s easy to see why Harper Collins have revisited this amazing series. 4.2/5 … Read more.

 

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

 TezMillerOz:  The Fire Sermon grabbed me from its concept, and kept me with its post-apocalyptic intrigue. Francesca Haig’s well-crafted secondary characters and fleeting glimpses of technology left me wanting more – and there are two books to go in the trilogy, so onward and upward! Read more.

( This book has already been optioned by Dreamworks Pictures to become a movie!)

 

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

SFFWorld.com: The Clockwork Dagger is Beth Cato’s debut novel and as the title may lead you to believe, it is very much a steampunk story.  The story features a gifted healer, a hidden princess, goblins, a mysterious man with a mechanical leg, a war, and much, much more.  The greatest element of The Clockwork Dagger has to be Octavia herself.  Orphaned at 12, she is taken in by Miss Percival, who helps her along with other young ladies in the ways of a medician. The Clockwork Dagger was an immensely fun and entertaining novel that got off to a wonderful start with that introductory chapter for Octavia and kept me hooked into the narrative and turning the pages at a dogged pace through to novel’s end. I’m looking forward to picking up Octavia and Alonso’s story in The Clockwork CrownRead more.

 


Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

TezMillerOz:  This fascinating novel provides a great look at a proto-science about which I’d love to learn more. Dark Alchemy is brilliant as a stand-alone, yet a return trip to Temperance wouldn’t be unwelcome. Come for the western, but stay for the weird science!! Read more.

 

 

AWOL by Traci Harding

 GalaxyBooks:  I remember picking up my first Traci Harding novel from my high school library back in the early 2000’s. I instantly fell in love with the characters and was so happy to have such a different style of writing to enjoy. The message behind Traci’s works has always stayed with me and has often comforted me through some of the harder times in my life. Her reincarnating characters are some of my favourites, she simply makes them work in ways I don’t think any other author can without the idea becoming boring or annoying. This theme has linked together 4 of her epic trilogies across time, space and now universes, but with this final instalment the adventure comes to an end. Again… Read more.

 

 

Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

 Dark Matter Zine: Joe Abercrombie knows his literature. Early on I saw shades of The Scottish Play echoed through Lord of the Rings into Half the World. The far future or fantasy post-apocalyptic world is familiar — Witch World by Andre Norton, Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks to name only two — and yet Abercrombie’s is unique. I assumed his world was built on the ashes of this one but, with talk of elves and magic, now I’m not so sure. Either way, it’s an effective basis for a relatable yet different world.

I’ve read and watched the mentoring trope with similar heroes’ journeys before but Abercrombie’s tale is effectively woven, ensnaring me as a reader. I enjoyed Thorn’s journey as a character with whom I could relate as a teenager. I loved Brand: his simplicity, his ethics and his internal conflicts. Abercrombie embraces the tropes while avoiding cliché conclusions. Read more.

Read at Midnight:I loved Half A King so I was so excited to come plunging back into The Shattered Sea series.  Though the story in this book was driven by different characters, I still found the cast utterly charming in all their double-crossing and murderous glory. One of the things I really enjoyed about Half A King was its treatment of female characters.  The book featured ladies in position of political power, ladies who were physically strong, ladies who were mentally strong, ladies who never took a backseat to the dudes – despite the story being narrated by a male protagonist.  Half The World go one step beyond that to give us more than half a book narrated by Thorn, a veritable badass. Read more.

 

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb

 Fantasy-Faction: When studying literature I came to see the most successful and powerful books as the ones that not only have an effect on your emotions, but which reshape you as a person. The most amazing books take you on a journey that changes you, they force you to see the world in a different way and change how you react to certain experiences. Robin Hobb’s books have always done this, but this is by far the best example of it. The Fool’s Assassin will change you as a person, force you to look at the world in a new way – that’s an incredible power that only very, very few authors have and for this fine display of such magic, Robin Hobb is the only possible choice for Best Fantasy Novel of 2014.   Read more.

Onyx Javelin by Steve Wheeler

 Tea in the Treetops: I’ve enjoyed reading each book in this series, but I have to admit to liking this one the best so far. While the previous books were more of a collection of shorter adventures of the Basalt and her crew, Onyx Javelin widens the focus to several points of view, showing parallel stories that converge on the planet. Not only that, but this book ends on a cliffhanger, leaving plenty of room for more of the story! I like this format a lot more as it allows for the slow build of tension through the whole book.   Read more.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Chronicles Art & Design by Weta Workshop

 The Age: Weta Workshop, which has its origins in a flat in Wellington, is now one of the world’s leading creative design units. Weta’s senior concept designer Daniel Falconer, in a profusely illustrated book, documents more than 1800 pieces of conceptual artwork created for the final film instalment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. The book follows through from the initial concept artwork the artists, designers and production staff, through the developmental stages, to the end product, With much behind the scenes information and commentary, this is a essential purchase for the ardent Hobbit fan..   Read more.

Messenger's Legacy by Peter V. Brett

 Smash DragonsMessenger’s Legacy highlight’s Brett’s ability to create a rich and textured world that seems authentic and real to the reader. There is nothing verbose about the people, creatures, or land in a Messenger’s Legacy, and it is simply beautiful to read. If I had one small criticism it would be that I wanted to know more about Briar. The early chapters of this novella were simply mesmerising, and showcased Brett’s ability to write simple yet soulful prose filled with sad innocence. All in all Messenger’s Legacy was a really great return to the Demon Cycle universe. I cannot recommended this novella highly enough to fans of fantasy, and I can’t wait to see what befalls Briar and the others in The Skull Throne  Read more.

The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison

 King’s River Life: In other reviews, I have often told potential readers that picking up that series in midstream is okay because it’s easy to get up to speed. Here, I would recommend going back, because you face a dozen books worth of back-story and world-building. It can be done, but it’s like going over Niagara Falls in an inflatable wading pool. If you have followed Rachel’s trials and triumphs for a long time, this grand finale will be a joy as you see everything come to a satisfying conclusion, with the characters you love getting… and the characters you hate losing.   Read more.

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin

 Dark Matter ZineIf The Ice Dragon was a movie, it would kind of pass the Bechdel Test. Not because of interactions between women but because Adara’s relationship with herself is so independent and strong, as is her relationship with animals.

Overall, The Ice Dragon is a lovely little book, highly recommended to Game of Thrones fans, those who can’t read the adults’ books because “they’re too long”, and to fantasy fans raising their Padawans in the way that they should go.  Read more.

The Age: While the novella is clearly aimed at younger readers, the tale of courage and sacrifice will also appeal to many adults. Set in Martin’s Westeros world, it follows a young 7-year-old “winter child” Adara, who is both physically and personally cold, but the only one who can engage with the legendary Ice Dragon. When an enemy army and their dragons threaten her family’s existence, only Adara and her ice dragon stand in their way. Read more.

 

Horizon by Keith Stevenson

  Tsana Reads: I enjoyed Horizon and I would recommend it to all fans of science fiction. There’s not a huge amount of Australian-authored SF out there and it’s always nice to see more, especially when it’s of this quality. SF fans who enjoy semi-science driven stories (it’s not all about the science but the science is important to the story) will probably enjoy Horizon. I will certainly be keeping an eye on future novels Stevenson writes.  Read more.

 

 

Obsidian by Alan Baxter

 SmashDragon: Like in Bound, I really enjoyed the easy and action packed style that Baxter writes with throughout the story. It is a fast paced, balls to the wall style that works extremely well alongside his characters and plot. I thought the fight scenes were well choreographed (again, like in Bound) and written, and I was fascinated by Alex’s growth and direction throughout the story. I also adored how Silhouette grew from the first novel, becoming even more complex and interesting. The introduction of new organisations and characters also worked well overall in setting things up nicely for future books (although I thought the introduction of new character Claude Darvill was cliched initially, I soon found myself just enjoying his role in the book). I will admit I did a little dance when Black Diamond returned!   Read more.

 

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

 Dark Matter Zine: George R R Martin has left his mark on Abercrombie’s work. George has ‘In the Game of Thrones you win or you die’ and now Abercrombie has ‘A king must win. The rest is dust.’ High stakes! Yavi’s coming-of-age story is part Fellowship of the Ring rising, part Assassin’s Apprentice. Although bloody and brutal in places, Half a King is not nearly as grimdark as Abercrombie’s usual fare. It’s a suitable bridging story for young adults and adults alike. Women characters are few and far between but those present are interesting and varied; Abercrombie treats women as individuals with skills. Fast-paced, carrying the reader swiftly towards the inevitable confrontation, Half a King surprised me in the denouement less by ‘who’ and more by what happened next.  Read more.

 

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

 Dark Matter ZinePrince of Fools is the first installment of Mark Lawrence’s new trilogy, Red Queen’s War. Overlapping with Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire trilogy), Lawrence’s award-winning debut novel brings greater depth to Prince of Fools, further enriching his fascinating fantasy world like Anne McCaffrey’s interwoven Pern novels.

Epitomizing the unreliable narrator, Jalan reminds me strongly of Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb) and Sir Apropos of Nothing (Peter David) although Jal’s standards are somewhat higher than Apropos’s. The self-deprecating humor throughout this story lends a lighter counterpoint to what would otherwise be a grimdark tale … I thoroughly enjoyed Prince of Fools and highly recommend it. I read it in a day in spite of other temptations, skipping telly to finish it tonight. 5/5 stars …  Read more.

Confessions from Romaholics: The Prince of Fools is my first by this author but reminding me why I feel in love with this genre. Not just a fantasy this story picks up after the first book and we soon see why. Jalan despite his faults, is somewhat a loveable character despite his problems. A rogue he doesn’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, helping someone even thought it means he has escape his problems … The relationship between the duo reminders me of certain another fantasy book and I love how the end turned out. This only the beginning but I can’t wait for the next book. I’m definitely liking this book whilst this a dark fantasy at times, the author knows how to bright up the book at the right times with the humor. Read more.

 

Bound by Alan Baxter

 Mark Timmony:  This is a page turning dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from sex and violence and the the underbelly of society. Filled with guts, passion, determination and the will to survive Baxter has delivered a great romp of a novel and I’m looking forward to see where he takes Alex Caine next … Read more.

Collins Edwardstown:  This book makes you want to get to the end to see just how Alex goes about getting rid of the book, does he survive? Does he bring about the end of the world?  You will just have to read it to find out, you won’t be disappointed. The start to this series has given me faith that the Urban Fantasy scene is not just the same story with different characters. … Read more.

Bookonaut:  It’s great to follow a writer and see that hard work and persistence pays off.  Alan Baxter is one such writer and it was great news to see that he had secured a three book deal with HarperVoyager for the Alex Caine series … It’s a polished piece of work.  Baxter’s earlier works are more in the vein of horror/dark fantasy adventures. Bound feels like Baxter’s trimmed down the prose to fighting readiness and he’s come out swinging … The darkness, violence and sex might turn some readers off but I think Baxter and HarperVoyager are treating us as adults with this one and that’s refreshing, it’s not gratuitous but when you have flesh eating fey and bloodsports there is enough there to maintain our suspension of disbelief … Read more.

Tsana ReadsBound was an action-packed and fast-paced read with elements of moral ambiguity and horror. You could also call it a dark urban fantasy, if you were so inclined. If you are looking for a darkish and violent read, then Bound is the book for you. It’s also self-contained if sequels aren’t your thing. Mind you, I think I remember reading that books 2 and 3 will be out soon (like months, rather than years, apart), so there won’t be a long wait until we get more of Alex and Silhouette’s story, if long waits aren’t your thing. I have no idea where the story might go next, but I want to find out. … read more.

Newtown Review of Books:   A grimoire, ancient magic – and cage fighting. This novel romps through it all. Warning! Wizards are no longer weedy, spectacle-wearing dorks with wimpy scars on their heads waving sticks and reciting pig Latin. In the world of Bound, the first in the Alex Caine series by Alan Baxter, wizards are cage-fighting kickboxers, channelling eldritch powers as extensions of their murderous will in order to harden their bodies to punch through rock – or flesh/bone/brain matter – before bedding their girlfriends/sidekicks to quell their post-fight rage … read more.

GiraffeDays: I enjoyed Bound, both for its dark, twisted other-worldly creatures and, at times, downright terrifying scenes of violence and gristly murder (the scene with the children was particularly hard to read), as well as for the simple but layered world-building. Alex Caine starts off the series as an ordinary man with a couple of extraordinary talents; by the end, he’s something more than human and forever changed by his experiences. It can only get more interesting from here on … read more.

 

Manifestations by David Henley

 The Australian:  …Manifestations has a great set-up, and a strong array of exciting science fiction ideas. It does a lot to further develop the Weave, including its visual aspect and as a tool for shaping the fortunes of political leaders and the policies of the World Union. Henley adds some nice twists to earlier variations of the idea … Overall, Manifestations is superior to its predecessor. Its fresh ideas and an engaging plot drive the story nicely. All this means that Henley’s series is shaping up well and promises a suitably epic conclusion in its final entry due for release mid next year. Read more.

Newtown Review of Books: The second book in the Pierre Jnr trilogy is a compelling read, full of ideas and fast-flowing events.  There are so many amusing and creative ideas here. It is like a rich jigsaw of threads and allusions, many commenting perceptively on our own times: for example, privacy is certainly something that doesn’t exist! The third book, Convergence, is about to be released. I look forward to it, as there are so many connections and hints to be resolved. Read more.

 

 

 

North Star Guide Me Home by Jo Spurrier

 Tea in the Treetops:  …The characters are so well-written and the magic system and different cultures so detailed that I really enjoyed it. I’d recommend it to fans of Robin Hobb, GRR Martin or Rowena Cory Daniells. I hope there’ll be more stories about this world and its people! Four and a half out of Five: A great conclusion to this epic fantasy trilogy. Read it and love it, gritty fantasy fans! Read more.

 

 

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Monsters and Critics: Fully envisioned, finely nuanced and wonderfully original, this is without a doubt, one of the very best fantasy series on the market… Read more.

Just a Guy That Likes to Read: A lot of drama, a lot of possibilities, and a lot of plot threads converge in a single bloodletting conclusion that has me salivating for the next instalment … read more.

 

Inside Out by Will Elliott

 Fancy Goods blog: What begins as a story about Denton, an utterly unremarkable and unsuccessful young man, and his encounter with a bizarre new age cult, turns into a delightfully odd exploration of the ideas of self, consciousness and identity… Read more.

Fantasy Book Review: I really enjoyed Inside Out. It is the type of story that offers something interesting and unique, which is a valuable commodity in a genre that is often accused of being repetitive … Will Elliott is guy who takes risks with his storytelling, and the genre is better for it … Read more.

Aurealis: Denton has no job, no hope, is nearly twenty-nine, and lives with his mother. It’s little surprise that he makes an easy convert for the Sect of Bliss, a new-age cult whose teachings are mostly cribbed from classic science fiction. Its leader, the messianic Daniel Mason, doesn’t think brainwashing Denton shouldn’t be too hard— but how could he, when he doesn’t know about the bizarre cast of characters that live inside Denton’s mind, or what they’ll do to preserve what little mental clarity he possesses? Will Elliott’s newest release, Inside Out, is a tremendously imaginative and entertaining read. Denton himself is a loveable if somewhat feckless protagonist, and Mason is suitably comically villainous, but the show is stolen by those that live ‘inside’. These include the Dream Master, a board-short wearing wizard, Len, the, cloven-hoofed creator of Denton’s nightmares, Mr Scott, the infallibly responsible Director of Logic, and Wetpatch, the latex-clad, sex-toy-wielding embodiment of Denton’s neglected but ravening libido. Not only weird but also hugely fun, this rogues’ gallery of personified mental deficiencies is used by Elliott to great comic effect as he melds notions of consciousness and identity into his own brand of twisted fiction. Taking place both inside Denton’s head and in the outside world, the narrative weaves frequently between perspectives, and the unconscious interactions between Denton and those that run his mind are as much a joy to read as they must have been to write. Each page is simultaneously perverse, thought-provoking, and hilarious, and Elliott has once again proved his capacity for telling the strangest of stories in the most original of ways. This may be his best work yet. (Review by Alex Stevenson )

 

Wall of Spears by Duncan Lay

Tsana Reads blog: In this concluding volume, the conflicts set up in the first two books — between the mighty Forlish army and everyone else, between the “elves” and the humans, between the Velsh and the Forlish and elves — all come to a head. With Sumiko, the evil magic-weaver, gaining more and more power among the elves, tensions are running high. Obviously the fact that she’s continuing to try to kill the main characters adds to the conflict. Read more.

Speculating on SpecFic: Lay’s gorgeous world building is in evidence again, with the backdrop seamlessly weaving itself around the characters and action. I love immersing myself in the worlds that Lay creates because of how he crafts them. It’s absolutely masterful –  he imparts all the necessary details about his characters, their culture and beliefs, the landscape around them, and their general way of life without info-dumping or bogging down the story. This is story-telling at the highest quality, dear readers! Read more.

Dark Matter Zine: The whole trilogy has had great depth to the characters: they are interesting, complex and compelling. In particular I enjoyed seeing the journey of Sendatsu from a weak, rather contemptuous character into a man of strength and honour. Wall of Spears continues in the same mold with strong characters. Many minor characters from the first two books are explored and given depth in this book. The plot lines throughout the trilogy are dramatic and exciting; Wall of Spears is no exception. It is a good conclusion to a series which has grown on me as I have read it. I think I liked Wall of Spears best out of the trilogy. I recommend this book and this series to readers who like epic fantasy with rich characters and battles, magic, intrigue and a bit of romance. Read more.

 

Crystal Venom by Steve Wheeler

KIWIreviews: What will you do when the hand that nourishes you starts choking you? The crew of Basalt, the interstellar frigate, are major media heroes, famous beyond their wildest dreams. The various factions of the Administration, the Games Board, the Haulers and the corporate Gjomviks all want a piece of their action, and will go to any lengths to manipulate the famous ship and crew to make more money and gain more influence, even if it means savaging Basalt beyond recognition.

A Fury of Aces 2 - Crystal Venom product review - As Seen on KIWIreviews.co.nz

SFFANZCrystal Venom is also much more dramatic story than its predecessor, with Sergeant-Major Marko Spitz’s unit becoming a sparring device between factions within the competing power structures of the pan-galactic human diaspora. And those factions are playing in a most uncompromising fashion, which can be deleterious to the health of those that get used in the competition. With at least one member of the unit suffering a temporary death – if a hiatus in living of several years can be counted as temporary. Steve Wheeler has progressed as an author with Crystal Venom written in style that is very reminiscent of Robert Heinlein. I hope Mr Wheeler approves of that comparison. Read more

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Book Review Alley: Somewhat ironically, Martin’s magnum opus started out as nothing less than a brutally modern take on the paradoxes of power and the intricacies of a feudal society, yet the scope of its heightened appeal can be fully contemplated in the context of a recently-waged tug-of-war between the subversion of common fantasy tropes and the resurfacing of major supernatural elements later in the novels. If one has to roll the dice here, I’d say the latter will keep you entertained, though in the end the former still wins out. Read more.

Black Sun Light My Way by Jo Spurrier

The Oaken Bookcase: The second book in the Children of the Black Sun series delivers even more excitement, suffering and sparkly magic than the first book did, in rather unpredictable ways. I had a lot of trouble putting it down – certainly no second-book curse to be found here! … There were so many unexpected turns in this story, I have no idea where it can all go next, but I can’t wait to read more in this cold and cruel world, although I am slightly worried about what more Jo Spurrier can put her characters (and readers) through! Highly recommended to high fantasy fans, but just be forewarned about the grisly nature of the story. Read more.

The Hunt for Pierre Jnr by David Henley

High Fantasy Addict:This sci-fi political thriller by debut novelist David Henley is an intelligent and enthralling read.

The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is set in a world that felt to me as though it could be scarily prophetic. Global warming has caused worldwide famine, and the resulting social upheaval has left what remains of the world’s population scattered across a few habitable hubs. The world has become a smaller place than ever, and humanity is connected by the Weave, a matrix-style interface of all human thought and knowledge. Democracy has reached its ultimate level; politicians are elected and dethroned at the whim of the Will, the general consensus of the entire populace at any given time … Read More

Newtown Review of Books: This novel is imaginative and intelligent. Henley creates a very logical world with many of the trends and tendencies of our own time shown in all their possible scary trajectories. Should people with special abilities be controlled? How much freedom can people expect in a world so overpopulated? How will computers affect our lives in the future? Can we bioengineer creatures ethically? The relationship between the Will of the people and the Weave is quite interesting too; it is as if digital voting has flowered into a sort of intuitive democratic response. Read more

Fantasy Book Review(UK): And so I started in on this unique book, written by Australian author David M Henley. It was a troubling prospect – I’m not a fan of books in which an eight year old boy can be a convincing villain – but I was quickly cured of my doubts. The world Henley has built is intriguing, handed over to the reader in dribs and drabs that keep you coming back for more, and populated with a variety of characters each with their own disturbing quirks and promises … I was deeply impressed with the way that neither side (and there are definitely sides to be taken) has a monopoly on what is absolutely right. Henley has managed to create a situation in which – ideologically – there should be a right and a wrong side, but in the application, nothing quite so simple can be found … David M Henley is definitely going to be an author to watch out for, as the next five years progress. He has the potential to be another Peter F Hamilton or Daniel Suarez, and I look forward to finding out what else his mind has to say.  Read more

The Weekend Australian: SYDNEY -BASED author and publisher David M. Henley has written a science fiction novel full of fascinating concepts and ideas. The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is set in 2159: the Earth’s climate has long gone haywire and humanity is at a crossroads. The emergence of people with psionic powers such as telepathy and telekinesis threatens the established order. In response, a global organisation, Services, is charged with identifying, segregating and repressing the psis. Extreme measures are implemented in the hope of heading off a psi rebellion.

The focus of the novel is the hunt for an eight-year-old boy, Pierre Jnr. He has been born with unprecedented powers that allow him to take complete control of anyone around him and to erase their memory. An elite team has been assembled to track down the boy, but locating him is one thing, containing and controlling him another. Tracking Pierre Jnr is made possible by the weave, a futuristic version of the web that has come to connect humanity to an unimaginable degree. As Pierre Jnr changes the world around him, the weave reacts. A catastrophic event in Paris generates mass fear and leads to a rapid change in popular will, which brings down the existing leadership and facilitates the rapid rise of anti-psi hardliners. All this occurs within hours, taking the idea of something going viral on the internet to a new level …

The Western Weekender: Readers will be drawn into an eerie, dystopic world in new science fiction novel The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, which heralds a return to the golden age of sci-fi .The book, written by author and publisher David M Henley, has been described as a combination of the style of beloved writer Phillip K Dick and Japanese anime. The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is the first of a bold new trilogy, set in the not too distant future in the year 2159 where society has changed dramatically compared to the world we live in now. … With its futuristic theme and dystopian vibe, The Hunt for Pierre Jnr will be a hit with sci-fi and spec fiction fans who are sure to be hooked on this three-part series. 

Valley of Shields by Duncan Lay

The Sydney Telegraph: THIS is the second book in talented fantasy writer Duncan Lay’s Empire of Bones trilogy. Bridge Of Swords, the first in the series, ended in a breath-taking cliffhanger and the action picks up almost exactly where it left off. Led by the reluctant elf-in-exile, Sendatsu, the supposedly magic-less humans struggle to find a way to defend the country they love from their invaders. In this volume, both the humans and the elves begin to discover that past events are not what they have been led to believe. As the humans search for a way to defend their country, events back in the Sendatsu’s Dokuzen continue to unravel. With multi-layered plots and multifaceted characters, Valley Of Shields is an action packed, entertaining read. – Janet Hughes

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Galaxy Bookshop:I wanted to squee and do a little dance when I found this little treasure waiting for me at work. After reading the first chapter online a month in advance I was already hooked and itching to sink my fangs into the rest of the story. As the author’s first stab into urban fantasy, I was intrigued to see how she would take on the genre and make it her own. For previous readers of Anne Bishop’s work, this story has many of the same elements as her other works. It’s dark, complex and captivating. It’s not the sensuous epic of the Black Jewels, or mysterious like her Ephemera novels; but holds a darker and wilder note altogether. Read more.

BurnBright.com.au:Anne Bishop has held my attention for many years. She’s had me giggling, crying and just completely enthralled by her Black Jewels series. So you know the drill; see a new series coming out and HAVE to read it.First impressions of Written in Red are quite good. This is a lovely thick book. Cover art in black and white, with a red title. The image of a girl with her head bowed is set within the shape of a howling wolf and placed against a white backdrop. Very effective.Read more.

RT Book Reviews: “INCREDIBLE. This description applies to everything in Anne Bishop’s newest book. The worldbuilding is amazing, the characters are incredibly well drawn and power play between the different groups is engrossing. Top this off with a mystery surrounding the heroine’s past — which is revealed one tantalizing piece at a time — and this novel is one of the best reads of the year!” – Morgan Doremus, RT Editor Read more.

The Iron King by Maurice Duron

SpeconSpecFic: I hate the word unputdownable. I really do. But I’m going to use it, because that’s exactly what The Iron King is: terribly difficult to put down once the cover is cracked. I shouldn’t be surprised as the series comes highly recommended by none other than George R. R. Martin himself, and it’s easy to see how Martin was inspired by this historical epic. Read more.
 

The Scrivener's Tale by Fiona McIntosh

Write Note Reviews: I tend not to read a lot of fantasy books, but after reading The Lavender Keeper and being captivated by Fiona McIntosh’s superb storytelling, I had to give The Scrivener’s Tale a go. I’m glad I did – I was soon transported from present-day Paris into medieval Morgravia and swept along with a fantastical adventure. Those familiar with McIntosh’s writing will recall Morgravia from The Quickening series; however, this novel is not a continuation of that series but a stand alone. Read more.

Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

Fantasy Book Review (UK ): For more than a dozen years we’ve been taught to fear winter by the increasingly popular phrase “Winter is coming…” (Thanks, George!), but its dangers seem abstruse, and far from the sheltered life that we are familiar with. In this debut by Jo Spurrier, we get a glimpse of the horror that is winter. The constant exposure to snow and frost means that surviving on your own is simply inconceivable. Even if you’re a mage … I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut. It is well written: the characters are great and realistic, and the descriptions of magical feats will leave you craving for more. The story is refreshing, interesting, and, at times, quite horrific (did I mention that there’s lots and lots of torture?) – One cannot ask for more! I for one am looking forward to the next book in the series, you will be too.  Read more

Dark Matter Fanzine: The storyline [ of Winter Be My Shield]is set in a framework of international politics.  The countryside featuring the action in this novel is like a northern country bordering the Arctic Circle, where winter rules and summer is a slush-fest of mud and insects.  I’m not sure what the fascination with snow is for people like Spurrier and Cory Daniells who DON’T LIVE IN THE SNOW, but Spurrier certainly wrote it well enough for me to feel cold.  In spring.  In MELBOURNE.  Read more

Mark WebbWinter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier is the first book in the Children of the Black Sun trilogy. This was Spurrier’s debut novel and she has subsequently gone on to finish the trilogy. This book has sat on my to be read shelf for a long time. I received it at an Aurealis Award ceremony a couple of years back, and it has sat staring accusingly at me from my bookshelf for all that time. And it is too bad that I waited so long to get into the book, because I really enjoyed it.  Read more

Nightfall by Will Elliott

Fantasy Book Review:  Last Friday I became one of those guys. You know? Those guys who tear up at the end of a book? I saw a tiny little tear stain the last page of Nightfall and in the two days since that moment I am still thinking about that ending and the whole experience I just went through. I have read hundreds of books over the years, and a few of them have been emotional, but nothing has even come close to extracting the types of emotions that Will Elliott managed to pull out of me. Read more

Dark Matter Fanzine: It must be said that I have read Nightfall with some anticipation after having heard of it’s interesting premise and the high praise for Will Elliott’s first novel The Pilo Family Circus (which I have not yet read, but certainly plan to). Nightfall is a strange novel. Good strange. Comparable, I believe, to Clive Barker’s style of fantastical horror (think Books of Blood) – not as intimidatingly dark, but with similar bizarre elements, characters, landscapes and events. Read more

Bridge of Swords by Duncan Lay

The Newtown Review of Books: Bridge of Swords  (Part One of Empire of Bones) opens with an Elf thrown from his hidden land, Dokusen, as a result of machinations within his realm concerning the decay of magic and the bitter rivalry between his brutal father, the tyrant at the head of the council, and the equally untrustworthy controllers of magic, the Magic-weavers. His name is Sendatsu. He must leave behind his adored motherless children and his unattainable love, Asami, and seek the reasons for the separation of the two cultures, Human and Elvish, which occurred in the far past. Read More

The Dark Divide by Jennifer Fallon

The Newtown Review of Books:At the beginning of The Dark Divide, the twins’ situations are reversed [ from that in The Undivided ]. In Dublin, Darragh is dealing with the forces of the modern world. He is tried for larceny, conspiracy to commit murder, as well as kidnapping.  Ciaran, a warrior Druid, is there to help. We know that Ren, who has undergone an extraordinary apotheosis, will also be called on to help Darragh as the story continues. Read More