MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE RANKED

marvel cinematic universe ranked

From Iron Man to Captain America to Thor to Guardians of the Galaxy to Ant-Man, the MCU has struck a chord with moviegoers the world over, allowing some of the most legendary comic heroes of all time to be brought to the big screen in vivid, action-packed life.  The skill with which this has been done is quite amazing looking backwards in time, especially after the struggles WB has had with the most recent Justice League movie.  And with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my worst to first Marvel movies.


Doctor-Strange-Poster-Marvel-Official17. DOCTOR STRANGE 

First off, I need to admit never being a huge fan of the good Doctor, so I went into this movie needing something spectacular to turn me into a fan.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get it.  Yes, this film used the now standard MCU blueprint to make an entertaining movie filled with laughs, emotional moments, and many cool, special effect laced fights.  The problem was it felt like every other MCU movie.  Honestly, it was the first absolutely forgettable Marvel movie I had seen, which is why I’m putting this at the bottom of the list.


INCREDIBLE HULK POSTER16. THE INCREDIBLE HULK  

In 2008, the MCU really started with the release and love that Iron Man received.  What most people totally forget is that this Hulk movie came out only a month later that same year, had a brief cameo by Tony Stark, and was definitely intended to be a huge part of the MCU.  Today, the Edward Norton Hulk is basically completely ignored since Mark Ruffalo took over the role in The Avengers.  Even with that said, this is a good MCU movie and was just slightly better than Doctor Strange for me personally.


IRON MAN 3 POSTER15. IRON MAN 3

I am one of those MCU fans who just does not like this movie.  Tony Stark with PTSD-like symptoms after the Battle of New York in The Avengers did not excite me.  When you added to this the clever but ultimately lame Mandarin and the rather annoying Aldrich Killian perhaps you understand why I did not enjoy this one.  Don’t get me wrong there were still cool scenes and fun Tony Stark moments, but overall the film did not hold my interest or make me want to watch it over and over again like the initial Iron Man film did.


SPIDERMAN HOMECOMING14. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

This is another recent MCU movie which follows the Marvel blueprint perfectly combining humor, action, and emotional moments.  I thought Tom Holland gave a great performance as the new Peter Parker, who is trying to balance being both the hero Spider-Man and just a regular high school guy with Tony Stark as a sort of mentor.  Hell, I even loved Michael Keaton’s Vulture.  The issue I had with the film was the fact it was yet another MCU movie, which meant it didn’t stand out on its own merits at all.


gotg vol 2 poster13. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol. 2   

I know, I know, this is a MCU franchise which everyone and their mother seems to adore, usually causing it to appear high up in every list, and I agree this is a funny movie with some great acting performances (Kirk Russell as Ego comes to mind.)  The problem I had was the story itself was weak, the whole Daddy issue for Starlord was resolved fairly grimly, and it just wasn’t as enjoyable as the first movie.  If I had to pick one issue that ruined GotG2 for me it would probably be the darker tone .


iron man 2 psoter12. IRON MAN 2

This movie had a lot of huge expectations when it hit theaters in 2010.  It mostly fulfilled them with a few notable exceptions.  First, the villain, Ivan Antonovich Vanko (also known as Whiplash) was merely okay to me.  Mickey Rourke did his snarling best with him, but it just wasn’t enough.  Second, Justin Hammer wasn’t anything but pathetically funny, so I couldn’t ever feel worried about his schemes.  What saved the movie from rating lower was really Robert Downey, Jr.’s great performance, as well as Tony’s interactions with Pepper, Happy, Rhodey, and, of course, Black Widow.


thor dark world poster11. THOR: THE DARK WORLD

I’m a huge Thor fan.  Love Asgard, Odin, Loki, and everything else Thor related.  I didn’t love this movie though.  What I should probably say is I didn’t like this space version of Malekith and the Dark Elves, hated the whole Aether nonsense, and found Jane Foster to be distinctly annoying.  All the scenes which focused mainly on Thor, Loki, and Asgard itself were really well done, exciting as well as funny, and emotionally touching at times.   I also have to give the film major props for the ending, which startled me and left me dying to know more.


avengers-age-of-ultron poster10. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

OMG, I wanted to love this movie when it came out.  The Avengers was such a huge extravaganza of awesomeness that I knew this one would have a hard time matching its predecessors, but there were moments when it really came close. The best moments were when the characters were interacting with one another and taking shots at each another (literally and figuratively).  I also should admit many of the actions scenes were damn amazing to watch, and Vision was really cool.  But . . . Ultron.  Just no.  A snarky, belligerent robot with a god complex pretty much ruined it for me.


gotg poster9.  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

I had some serious misgivings about GoTG when the previews first came out.  The MCU had not released a purely comedic film at this point, and I was a bit skeptical if this more humorous version of a space team would really work.  Of course, I shouldn’t have worried, since this was one of the funniest films of the year with some of the best team chemistry, a breakout performance by Chris Pratt as Starlord, and a decent MCU villain in Ronan the Accuser.  Yeah, there are movies I’ve liked more, but this one was really good.


THOR RAGNAROK PSOTER8. THOR:RAGNAROK

I didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did, because I was worried it would be too comedic and not epic enough.  Thankfully, the humor (while a bit over-the-top at times) didn’t ruin this sweeping saga of Hela and Ragnarok.  What I enjoyed the most was the appearance of Hulk, Odin’s fatherly advice, Thor and Loki’s brotherly bickering, and the fight scenes when Thor finally called forth the full power of the God of Thunder.  What an expected ending too.  Damn, didn’t see that one coming at all, but it was quite cool.


Ant-Man_poster7.  ANT-MAN

Marvel does a heist movie!  Even better, the main character is a quirky superhero named Ant-Man, which means the scenes of this dude turning small and surviving in the hidden world around us was brilliant.  Who can forget Ant-Man turning small for the first time in the bathtub?  The fight with Falcon at the Avengers compound? Or Ant-Man’s running struggle with Yellowjacket on the toy train?  Plus the story found a way to be damn funny yet also serious with Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas turning in great performances.


THOR POSTER6. THOR

This is an underappreciated movie in my eyes.  From epic, awe-inspiring Asgardian action starring Chris Hemsworth’s Thor to the scene stealing Tom Hiddleston as Loki to the regal, formidable Odin as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, this film was filled with great characters.  Added to this there was a good story of Thor going through a serious transformation from spoiled, arrogant child to serious, dedicated protector of those less powerful than himself.  Overall, it is a solid, entertaining introduction to Thor.


THE-FIRST-AVENGER poster5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

Talk about an underdog who you want to cheer for, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers is one of the best.  His rise from bullied loser to super soldier to laughingstock to doomed hero is about as epic and compelling as they come.  The love story is sweet and tragic.  The WW II action is intense and damn cool.  Red Skull is quite a villain.  And the ending is pure magic.  I can’t think of a single actor/actress who wasn’t great in their role either.  And to think I was worried this wouldn’t be a great MCU movie when I saw the first trailer for this one.


CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR PSOTER4. CAPTAIN AMERICA:CIVIL WAR

Finally, Captain America and Iron Man butt heads.  It had been building ever since The Avengers, and finally it erupted in this really good story.  I say “really good” because this wasn’t a great movie even though it had an amazing cast of characters (Who could forget Black Panther and Spider-Man’s introduction to the MCU!) and some awe-inspiring action scenes.  The main issue I had with this one was the villain: Baron Zemo, who did not interest me at all.  To add to Zemo’s Meh-ness was the rather lazy story with some damn huge plot holes.


IRON MAN POSTER3. IRON MAN

Iron Man was a true surprise when I watched it in the theater.  I expected an okay superhero movie, but Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark made this an instant classic.  Sure, Pepper, Rhodey, and everyone else have great parts, but Downey steals the show, turning a B List Marvel superhero into the face of the MCU.  Years later, I still think Iron Man holds up well, though later MCU movies have certainly delivered greater drama, more laughs, and grander special effects, but the difference between them and IM is that none of them were first and Iron Man was, which means it will always be up there on my list.


THE AVENGERS POSTER2. THE AVENGERS 

This movie changed everything in the superhero genre, showing clearly that team-up films could work, both die-hard comic fans and regular movie lovers could love the same movie, and great superhero movies could make loads and loads of money for film studios.  Why anyone ever doubted people would show up to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye take on Loki seems stupid in hindsight, but I recall that being a major question at the time.  Well, after this one, no one doubted the wisdom of superhero team-ups and the movies huge success assured that the MCU was here to stay for a long, long time.


CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER POSTER1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER

Marvel does political thriller!  This one had it all: great villains (Winter Soldier being only one of them!), the best actions scenes in any Marvel movie, introduction of the Falcon, great character interaction, and a story which draws you in and never lets up until the end.  It was just the best of the MCU and my current favorite of all the superhero movies released in the last decade.

 


So what do you guys think?  Agree?  Disagree? Indifferent?  Let us all know your thoughts!

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THE REALMS OF GOD

THE REALMS OF GODThe Realms of God by Michael Livingston.

Genre: Historical-Fantasy

Series: The Shards of Heaven #3

Publisher: Tor Books (November 7, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

The Realms of God is the third, and concluding, installment in Dr. Michael Livingston’s The Shards of Heaven: a clever, entertaining historical fantasy twist on ancient Rome.  Having been an avid reader since book one, I had high expectations for this novel and can truly admit this met them all, delivering exactly the mixture of action, adventure, history, and mystery that I was hoping for as the story comes to a close.

Two decades have passed.  King Juba of Mauretania and Cleopatra Selene rule peacefully far from the dangerous machinations of Rome touching them. Augustus Caesar’s ever vigilant eyes focused on other areas of his vast empire.  The Ark of the Covenant hidden away in the mighty city of Petra, watched over by the smoldering bones of long dead people and by the ever vigilant guard of Titus Pullo, Lucius Vorenus, and the orphan Miriam whom they have reared as their own.

But while Juba and Cleopatra Selene bask in tranquility evil is still at work.  The demons King Juba unwittingly having released years before conspiring with Augustus Caesar’s heir, Tiberius, to obtain the Shards of Heaven.  This unholy alliance determined to seize the Shards in the possession of Juba and Selene then uncover the location of the hidden Ark and seize its power to finally acquire ultimate power!

Without a doubt, Dr. Livingston is a gifted story teller of historical fiction; his ability to craft an epic plot and weave an entertaining tale growing by leaps and bounds before a constant readers eyes, even as The Realms of God showcases: his accurate, compelling visions of the past (ancient Rome here) filled with legendary vistas and populated by living, breathing people dealing with both normal, everyday issues of friendship, love, and loyalty as well as taking part in epic adventures that will shape the fate of the world and the future to come.  This quality having been on display throughout the trilogy and shining forth even bright in this concluding chapter.

As for the characters themselves and their journey, it all ends neatly, tightly with no loose plots left dangling in the proverbial wind.  King Juba, Cleopatra Selene, Tiberius, Miriam and all the rest finding fitting closure in this narrative.  No, everyone doesn’t get what they truly deserve — good or bad — but they do reach an ending to this leg of their life journey, a conclusion to this phase of their life.

The only criticism I would level at the novel, if forced, is Dr. Livingston’s continued inability to fully portray the epic nature of certain situations and emotions.  It is one thing to tell readers how deeply a character feels about particular circumstances or other people, but it is distinctly another for an author to be able to convey said emotions through the character’s actions, having readers innately understand such without every having to announce it.  Perhaps this isn’t a huge issue, since most narratives resort to “telling-instead-of-showing” at different times, but I personally prefer more show, less tell.

My final thoughts on The Realms of God are decidedly positive.  Without a doubt, this book is an entertaining mixture of historical settings and legendary figures with fanciful and clever plot lines, delivered in a flowing, easily digested prose that makes the narrative a quick and delightful read  What sets it a notch above other historical fantasy stories, however, is that Dr. Livingston has crafted this tale in such a way that little knowledge of history is required to enjoy the triumphs and travails of its leads.  Great historical fun is how I’d describe this novel (and series) to potential readers, even as I also heartily recommended it to them.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

 

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THE NINE

the nineThe Nine by Tracy Townsend

Genre: Fantasy-Mystery-Crime-Steampunk

Series: Thieves of Fate #1

Publisher: Pyr (November 14, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

The Nine is a genre blending work from Tracy Townsend that isn’t afraid to blaze its own trail in fantasy, mixing and matching the most exciting elements from other genres into something new, something all its own.  And while 2017 has been a year filled with great fantasy releases, this opening installment of the Thieves of Fate series is among my favorites.

Right out of the gate, it becomes apparent that while the setting of this narrative might seem familiar it is actually an alternate universe.  A world which resembles our own in times past but is uniquely different in many, many ways.  Foremost among these differences is that this is a place where religion is science and God is worshiped as a being who created the cosmos as the ultimate scientific experiment.  The focus of this divine study “The Nine.”  Nine beings whom God has chosen at random and whom he observes as they deal with life’s inevitable struggles; their actions to determine the final fate of all of humanity!

But all is not well in this world.  For while there are many who are devoted followers of God and attempt to live their lives uprightly as if they are one of the Nine, there are others who have more nefarious purposes.  Factions, groups, and individuals who desire and struggle to cause the ultimate experiment to fail, the Nine to cause the destruction of humanity.  These people’s focus fixed on a book which thirteen-year-old underworld agent Rowena Downshire has in her possession; a tome which writes itself and might be God’s own observational notebook on the Nine!

Like all works of speculative fiction, The Nine is built around a compelling “hook” to draw you into the story.  Here it is the idea of Theosophy, the religion of science.  This core concept opening up so many avenues for Townsend to study the human condition, specifically mankind’s religious behaviors, trend toward fundamentalism, and so many individual’s sincere devotion to a creator God.  For this narrative plays with the idea of how people would react if they knew there was a God.  Understood that the divine was watching, measuring, and ultimately judging their fate like a scientist in a laboratory.  How would those truths affect their behavior and their society?  All interesting questions to ask and attempt to answer.

Great concept or not, books succeed due to compelling, relatable characters, and the author attempts to give readers a plethora to choose from here.  Rowena Downshire is the clear lead, revealed as a stubborn, smart, and fierce youth able to take care of herself in harsh, dark world.  Opposite her is the cold, calculating Alchemist who seems sullen but also shows hints of a heart somewhere under his bitter exterior.  And, finally, there is Anselm; this cynical and decadent retired mercenary willing to openly proclaim himself a self-serving villain out only for himself.  The interaction between these and all the numerous minor characters quite well done; paths crossing, ideas exchanged and plots moved forward even by the most forgettable scenes and by the most minor of characters.

As for the world Rowena and company transverse, it can be best described as a cross between steampunk and gaslamp environment with more than a little flintlock fantasy mix in for good measure.  But even with its origins unclear, this is a vividly portrayed place.  The seediness of many locations is palpable.  Violence abounds.  Bitterness and divisiveness grow nearly unchecked.  And the three main races of this world are far different and have many long standing problems with one another.  Humans showing an innate selfishness which far exceeds their needs.  The huge Aigamuxa filled with rage that is easy to understand but difficult to completely justify.  And the sentient, walking trees called Lanyani both compelling and hard to warm up to.  All of these elements combining to make this a world readers will wish to explore and learn more about.

Even with all those things said, I have to admit that there was one main reason I enjoyed this novel: the mysteries explored.  The scenes where certain characters are attempting to decipher the book from God and unravel the universal truths of this cosmos were quite breathtaking.  Certainly, the action and adventure expertly interspersed around these more intellectual scenes did help keep my attention riveted to the pages, but the mystery is what kept me turning those pages to find the next nugget of discovery.

All in all, The Nine was a fast, easily digested read which entertained and satisfied — but did not make the mistake of fully satisfying, leaving me thinking about unresolved plots and unrevealed mysteries, waiting in anticipation for all my questions to be answered next time.  So with that said, I believe I can call this book a successful debut and leave it at that.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 4 Stars, Fantasy, Flintlock, Gaslamp | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (DECEMBER 4, 2017)

funday-monday

Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new year and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

UPDATE:  Last week I promised to catch-up on my reviews.  Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, so I’m still behind.  But, hey, on the bright side, I’ve gotten a lot more reading done . . . but that just means I’m even further behind on those reviews now. *Sigh* Guess I’ll try to focus on the great books on tap for this week!

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moon huntMoon Hunt by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen Gear

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: North America’s Forgotten Past #24

Publisher: Forge Books (November 21, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 416 pages

Whispering Dawn has come to Cahokia as the bride of the living god Morning Star. She brings with her dark secrets. Political intrigue. And deadly magic.

When Morning Star drinks her poisoned nectar, the Night Moth carries his souls off to the Underworld to be slowly sucked into oblivion.

Cahokia is shaken to the roots by Whispering Dawn’s betrayal, and as the empire teeters on the verge of civil war, the immortal god’s human sister Night Shadow Star realizes that only she–intimately tied to the Underworld–can make the journey into the dark realms to retrieve Morning Star’s captured souls. To do so, she and Fire Cat must descend into the Sacred Cave’s terrifying depths where, beset by soul-devouring monsters, it may come down to Fire Cat to save the man, city, and people he once despised.

Moon Hunt is the third epic tale in the Morning Star series by New York Times bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear. Against the intricate majesty that was America’s greatest pre-Columbian city, the Gears have once again woven the latest archaeological data into a painstakingly accurate reconstruction of Cahokia and provide a rare look into the mystical underpinnings of Native American culture.

Purchase the book at Amazon


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FALLEN GODSFallen Gods by James A. Moore

Genre: Fantasy — Sword and Sorcery

Series: The Tides of War #2

Publisher: Angry Robot (January 2, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

The gods are angry and only one man can fend off their apocalypse in the brutal sequel to The Last Sacrifice.

Brogan McTyre and his compatriots are wanted, dead or alive. Preferably alive, so they can be sacrificed to the raging gods. All they can do is hire more mercenaries and turn them into a fearsome army. But warriors aren’t enough when the gods bring Armageddon to the world, unleashing storms and madness, and ceaseless attacks on Brogan’s men by increasingly demonic foes.

Deep in the heart of the Broken Blades Mountains lies a sword containing the heart of a god slain in immortal combat, the one thing that might give Brogan an edge against the gods, but finding it isn’t going to be easy…

Purchase the book at Amazon

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BEST FANTASY COVERS VOL. 9

cover lover collage 1

It’s that time again! Time to highlight some of my favorite fantasy covers!

This time I’m just highlighting a few covers which caught my attention recently.  No real theme. I just really liked these covers when I saw them. In fact, several of the books are from series I’m familiar with and have no interest in reading, but I still need to give them love for the great eye-candy.

If anyone has read any of these book, let us know, because I’d sure we’d all love to know if they are actually worth giving a try.

10. The Nine

the nine


9. Empire Asunder

empire asunder


8. The Slaves of the Horned Gods

slaves of the horned gods


7. The Hidden Face the hidden face


6. Knee-Deep in Grit

kneedeep in grit


5. Child of a Mad God

child of a mad god

 


4. The Fall of Dragons

fall of dragons


3. The Mongrel Mage

mongrel mage

 


2. A Time of Dread

time of dread


1. Blade and Bone 

blade and bone

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: THE WILL TO BATTLE

waiting-on-wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to let readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and the novel I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .


the will to liveThe Will to Battle by Ada Palmer

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Terra Ignota #3 

Publisher: Tor Books (December 5, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 368 pages

The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end.

Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location.

The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held.

The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that façade is slipping away.

Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone—Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints—scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.

Purchase at Amazon

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TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

This week we have a great topic to explore …

TOP TEN BOOKS ON MY WINTER TBR LIST

Great topic and an easy one for me, since I always have far too many books lying around that I need to read.  Just to make it harder though, I’ve decided this winter while I’m sitting nice and snug in my house in front of the heater (I’d prefer a fireplace, but my home does not have one.) I am going to be focusing — though exclusively — on reading some older series I need to finish or give a try.


the red knight10. The Red Knight – Miles Cameron

Having purchased this novel on the recommendation of a friend who said it was just my kind of fantasy, I suppose it isn’t ridiculous that I’ve allowed it to sit on my bookshelf staring at me every day for ages.  Now, though, it is finally time to pull this one down and put that recommendation to the test, see how well my friend really knows me.

Purchase The Red Knight at Amazon.  


FALLEN GODS9. Fallen Gods – James A. Moore

As most of you will know, I’m an admirer of Mr. Moore’s sword and sorcery offerings, which deliver all the fast-paced pulp fun of ages past with a delightful dose of old-fashioned horror.  After enjoying The Last Sacrifice, I can’t wait to see what Mr. Moore has in store with readers with this second installment of The Tides of War series.

Purchase Fallen Gods at Amazon.


trial-of-intentions8. Trial of Intentions – Peter Orullian

Most people didn’t love The Unremembered.  I did, however, enjoy the Author’s Definite Edition, which fixed many of the problems people had with the initial edition.  Once I began this book though some changes in the tone and plot caused me to loose interest, but I really want to see where this story goes.

Purchase Trial of Intentions at Amazon. 


SHADOWLINE7. Shadowline – Glen Cook

As a self-professed fan of anything writen by Glen Cook, it is great sorrow I admit never having found time to read this book (or the Shadowfishers series it spawns).  What makes it worse is that I own the whole series, look at them on my bookshelf every day.  Well, this winter I’m going to get started reading them.

Purchase Shadowline at Amazon.


the last mortal bond6. The Last Mortal Bond – Brian Staveley

After enjoying The Emperor’s Blades and its follow-up The Providence of Fire, I was anxious to begin the conclusion to this trilogy.  Heck, I even got on Amazon and purchased a brand new, hardcover edition.  Then I got busy reading other novels and never found my way back to this one, so I think it is fitting I finish it up soon.

Purchase The Last Mortal Bond at Amazon.


the wheel of osheim5. The Wheel of Osheim – Mark Lawrence

Nope, The Red Queen’s War isn’t as amazingly grim as Mark Lawrence Broken Empire trilogy, but I still enjoyed the majority of the first two books.  Why I’ve never gotten around to reading the concluding installment I don’t know.  There is no better time than the present to rectify that though.

Purchase The Wheel of Osheim at Amazon.


against all things ending4. Against All Things Ending – Stephen R. Donaldson

Can’t express how excited I was when The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was released.  Hell, I devoured The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant faults and all.  But I couldn’t muster any excitement for this book, but since I’m a completionist, its time to pull this one off the bookshelf and finish this series already.

Purchase Against All Things Ending at Amazon.


house atreides3. Prelude to Dune – Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

As a lover of all things Dune, I buy all the books.  Are these novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson as good as the originals?  Nope.  Why do I read them then?  Because I’m a Dune lover, and I have to have my fix of Dune ever so often, which is why its time to read this.

Purchase House Atreides at Amazon.


before they are hanged2. Before They Are Hanged – Joe Abercrombie   

Honestly, I didn’t love The Blade Itself, but I’m not sure if that was because the book wasn’t for me or my expectations were set to high.  To determine this question once and for all, I need to muster up the effort, read the rest of The First Law series, and decide is Abercrombie for me or not.

Purchase Before They Are Hanged at Amazon.


well fo ascension1. Mistborn: The Wheel of Ascension – Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson is an author I’m gradually growing to love as I read more of his writing, but when I picked up Mistborn: The Final Empire, he and I had never met before, and while I enjoyed our first read together, The Well of Ascension just did not do anything for me.  Time to try again, because I need a bit more Sanderson after Oathbringer.

Purchase The Well of Ascension at Amazon. 

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OATHBRINGER

oathbringerOathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: The Stormlight Archive #3

Publisher: Tor Books (November 14, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 1233 pages

My Rating: 5 stars

Having recently finished a binge read of the first three novels in The Stormlight Archive, I can honestly say my mind is filled with this intricately detailed, amazingly epic story, so much so that I am finding it difficult to put into words my feelings for this series and, specifically, its third installment: Oathbringer. Mainly, this is due to the distinct originality and uniqueness of this book, which is hard to adequately describe. The world of Roshar far different from Tolkien’s LoTR, Martin’s ASoIF, or even Jordan’s WoT yet still terribly familiar. Roshar’s characters seemingly the normal standard bearers of legendary epics until Brandon Sanderson’s molds them into very different configurations. The plot here following the tried-and-true fantasy tropes only to turn them upside down, sending a reader flailing about in delightful ignorance of what is coming next. And due to all this, I believe the best way for me to summarize my feelings about Oathbringer is to merely say it is one of the most magnificent fantasy books I’ve ever read and leave it at that.

For those unfamiliar with The Stormlight Archive, it – like so many epic fantasy series – is centered upon the coming end of the world, as the cyclical Desolation Event comes upon the world of Roshar once again. The heralds of this cataclysm (the Voidbringers) having appeared along with the forces of Odium, and our band of “heroes” called upon to somehow, someway hold back the end of the world. Dalinar Kholin, Kaladin the Stormblessed, Shallan Davar, and Adolin Kholin finding themselves in far over their heads, no matter their pedigree and experience.

Where The Way of Kings was centered upon Kaladin and Words of Radiance focused on Shallan, Oathbringer’s main character is Dalinar. This novel spending a great deal of time comparing and contrasting the Dalinar of the present with the Dalinar of the past. The honorable, noble and principled would-be savior of Roshar revealed to have been a far different, more ruthless individual in the past; this history going a long way in explaining the reaction of so many people to Dalinar’s attempts to make of them allies in his crusade against the Desolation.

This focus on Dalinar does not mean the other characters of the series are left out in the cold however. In fact, Brandon Sanderson finds page time to weave compelling stories for Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin and many more. Each of these individuals dealing with new roles, emotional issues, and tough choices with long term repercussions. Some characters embrace their new identities, dealing with depression and addiction, but there are others who can’t or won’t, which causes them to have to deal with the pain of failure and fumble around to find other ways to change and grow as the world around them forces them to adapt to the evolving circumstances. All of this character development very raw, very real, and even more poignant and compelling due to this realism.

As for the world building in Oathbringer, it is just as superb as you’d expect from Sanderson. The world of Roshar, its people, its places, and its secrets mesmerizing in the extreme. The author finding new twists to add to the mix, revealing even more epic places, and adding to the legends and lore of this immense world. There is even time spent continuing to evolve the nature of the Desolations, the Heralds, the Oathpact, and everything else touched upon in the tale up to this point, leaving readers with the firm assurance that there is still much they do not know about Roshar.

Without a doubt, Oathbringer has raised the bar even higher for the already amazing Stormlight Archive, making me desperately wish I had the next installment of the series sitting before me so I could dive into its pages right now. Yes, there has been some tense moments, epic struggles, and riveting reveals in the series up to this point, and maybe I need a break from it, but I do not wish for one, since I know there is still a long ways to go before this ride ends and many more amazing things to come.  So everyone out there who hasn’t read this series yet, trust me, it is time to go ahead and begin your reading journey with The Stormlight Archive, because you do not want to miss out on this epic fantasy masterpiece!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (NOVEMBER 27, 2017)

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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. But while I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new year and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by reading some great books.

Well, I’ve done a lot of reading the last couple of weeks, caught up on a backlog of books and even descended upon a huge electronic proverbial pile of graphic novels I’d been collecting for a while, but I’ve fallen behind on my reviews.  So this week I’m going to be focusing on finishing those overdue book reviews, diving into Deadhouse Landing, and attempting to find time to start a new arrival.  Wish me luck!

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deadhouse landingDeadhouse Landing by Ian C. Esslemont

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: Path to Ascendancy #2

Publisher: Tor Books (November 14, 2017)

Author Information: Website 

Length: 400 pages

After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To do so they join forces with a small band of Napans who have fled a civil war on their own home island. The plan, however, soon goes awry as Kellanved develops a strange and dangerous fascination for a mysterious ancient structure found on the island.

The chaos in the region extends to the metaphysical planes also as a young priest of D’rek starts to question the rot at the heart of the worship of the god of decay. And back in Li Heng, Dassem, now the proclaimed Sword of Hood, finds himself being blamed for a plague which leads him to a crisis of faith – and searching for answers.

During all this, war with the neighbouring island of Nap threatens, recruited allies wonder at Kellanved’s sanity, and powerful entities take more of an interest in the little mage from Dal Hon. Dancer faces a hard choice: should he give up on his partnership? Especially when the fellow’s obsession with shadows and ancient artefacts brings the both of them alarmingly close to death and destruction.

After all, who in his right mind would actually wish to enter an Elder mystery known to everyone as the ‘Deadhouse’?

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moon huntMoon Hunt by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen Gear

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: North America’s Forgotten Past #24

Publisher: Forge Books (November 21, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 416 pages

Whispering Dawn has come to Cahokia as the bride of the living god Morning Star. She brings with her dark secrets. Political intrigue. And deadly magic.

When Morning Star drinks her poisoned nectar, the Night Moth carries his souls off to the Underworld to be slowly sucked into oblivion.

Cahokia is shaken to the roots by Whispering Dawn’s betrayal, and as the empire teeters on the verge of civil war, the immortal god’s human sister Night Shadow Star realizes that only she–intimately tied to the Underworld–can make the journey into the dark realms to retrieve Morning Star’s captured souls. To do so, she and Fire Cat must descend into the Sacred Cave’s terrifying depths where, beset by soul-devouring monsters, it may come down to Fire Cat to save the man, city, and people he once despised.

Moon Hunt is the third epic tale in the Morning Star series by New York Times bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear. Against the intricate majesty that was America’s greatest pre-Columbian city, the Gears have once again woven the latest archaeological data into a painstakingly accurate reconstruction of Cahokia and provide a rare look into the mystical underpinnings of Native American culture.

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BLOG TOUR: THE HIDDEN FACE

the hidden faceThe Hidden Face by S.C. Flynn

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: Fifth Unmasking #1

Publisher: The Hive (November 25, 2017)

Author Information: Website | FBTwitter 

Length: 350 pages

A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask.

Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal death of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a warrior woman named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

Powerful enemies want the secret as well, including a dynasty of magician-kings who were thought to have died out long ago, a mad, murderous hunchback and a beautiful, deadly woman who is never seen. Sunniva and Dayraven fight to survive and to solve the mystery while their own pasts come back to life and the attraction between them deepens.

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Special Guest Review of The Hidden Face!

Today’s post is written by Astolf, high priest of Axo. Here is his first meeting Dayraven, the main character of The Hidden Face:

Dayraven waited for the next swing and then charged. His first punch took Astolf in the guts and the next somewhere on that skinny face. Astolf swung the elephant stick again and Dayraven wrenched it out of his hands and swung it at Astolf’s chest. He felt the metal bite and Astolf screamed and fell back, a red line breaking through his clothes across the chest. Dayraven threw away the stick and followed up, hitting again.

‘Get him!’ Astolf shouted through his bloodied mouth.

Dayraven looked around, but none of Astolf’s gang had moved. Dayraven hit him again and he lay back. The brown earth was stained with blood.

Dayraven raised his fist again. ‘What was my father?’

Astolf glared back and tried to swing a punch, but Dayraven blocked it.

‘That’s not the answer. I’m going to ask you once more, then next time you won’t be able to answer, I promise you.’

‘A cow -’ Astolf’s eyes flicked to the fist and then turned away. ‘A hero.’

 Dayraven. Always Dayraven. This book has an obsession with Dayraven, my old enemy. From the very first pages, the author focuses mostly on his return to Faustia and his adventures there, rather than on my strategies.

The bias in favour of Dayraven is evident in the above description of our first meeting and combat when we were boys. My challenge to him – when I was armed and backed by a group of followers, while Dayraven was alone and unarmed – is presented as cowardly bullying, rather than what it really was: clever tactical use of advantage to establish ascendancy over a rival. My unlucky defeat in that first fight is shown as a victory for Dayraven, rather than a betrayal by my followers, who stood and watched and then even sided with my opponent from then on.

Similarly, the death in the past of Dayraven’s father – the so-called hero – is made out to be the result of treachery on the part of my father, rather than what it really was: the astute elimination of a rival.

This entire book stinks of such misrepresentations. I am shown as a pawn manipulated by more powerful figures, rather than the manipulator that I really was, or thought I was. My position as high priest is shown as a cynical ploy for power, but who would not do the same if they could?

I have no doubt that the book ends with my final triumph, but I was unable to finish it.

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S. C. FlynnAUTHOR INFO:  S. C. Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S. C. Flynn has written for as long as he can remember and has worked seriously towards becoming a writer for many years.

The Hidden Face is his second novel and the first book in the Fifth Unmasking series.

S.C. Flynn blogs at www.scflynn.com. He is on Twitter @scyflynn and on Facebook.

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Posted in Author Spotlights, Epic, Fantasy, Guest Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments