WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: THE LIGHT THAT BINDS

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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 . . .

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the light that bindsThe Light That Binds by Nathan Garrison

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Sundered World Trilogy #3

Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (October 3, 2017)

Length: 448 pages

Author Info: Website | Twitter

In The Light That Binds, the final installment of the Sundered World trilogy, Nathan Garrison concludes the story of Mevon, Jasside, and Draevenus—among many others—that he began with Veiled Empire and Shadow of the Void.

The Veil came down…but what did it let in?

In the wake of a treasonous plot that plunged the world into a vicious war, a new threat emerges: the Ruvak. It quickly becomes clear that the forces of man, mierothi, and valynkar are no match against this new foe. Not only do the Ruvak have a peculiar resistance to magic, their numbers are so vast, even the combined power of these unlikely allies have no way of matching them.

Still reeling from the betrayal that resulted in her coronation, and with the Ruvaki fleet inexorably pushing across the continent, Queen Arivana must now make hard decisions for her people and for the world, including turning a blind eye to Vashodia’s machinations and sending agents Tassariel and Draevenus to infiltrate enemy territory.

With the help of powerful Jasside and thoughtful Gilshamed, though, all is not lost.

But each new battle moves the Ruvak ever forward, and even the appearance of Mevon—who many thought dead—and his father’s armies might not be enough to prevent a new species from exterminating them all. It is the final battle for survival, and even the gods are powerless to stop it.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY

for steam and countryFor Steam and Country by Jon Del Arroz

Genre: YA – Steampunk

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher:  Superversive Books (June 15, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 279 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

For Steam and Country is a young adult, steampunk adventure penned by Jon Del Arroz. It is a light, fast-paced, and action-packed adventure which delivers hours of fun!

Sixteen-year-old Zaira von Monocle is a country girl who has been living alone, tending her family farm ever since her mother died and her father disappeared over two years ago. While she struggles with all her responsibilities, Zaira gives it her best, holding things together as best she can with the help of her neighbor James and his parents. But things are about to change!

A pair of strangers appear at Zaira’s farm driving a new-fangled steamcar. Both of these individuals having known her father well, informing Zaira that Theo von Monocle was something of a war hero in Rislandia, having undertaken many secret missions for the crown against the Iron Empire, and that after two years he has finally been declared legally dead after disappearing on one of said missions. The two of them having traveled to inform her of this fact and that she is the sole beneficiary of Theo’s will, having inherited the farm as well as her father’s most prized possession: an airship!

Zaira is now faced with a choice: stay and remain a farmer, or take on her father’s role as commander of The Liliana. The latter task much more than merely learning how to fly a zeppelin, but requiring our young hero to win over her father’s devoted crew and take on his role as a defender of Rislandia. The vile Iron Empire even now preparing for war on Zaira’s homeland; the king needing every airship he can get into the air to ward off the new threat – including the famous Liliana!

What should Zaira do? Her home might not be safe anymore with the war looming, but she has no idea how to command an airship. Plus, the burden of helping lead the Liliana into a war unnerves her. But if she doesn’t, how can she live with herself if Rislandia is destroyed?

What shines brightest in this novel is the realistic characters crafted by Jon Del Arroz. From the young, inexperienced Zaira to the tough, confident Captain von Cravat, this story is populated with people who are uniquely different from one another, have their own character quirks (Some of which are running jokes.), and organically grow and develop as the narrative unfolds. All of which means it is not your usual young adult story with a Mary Sue lead who does everything exceptionally well and whom everyone falls all over themselves to fall in love with. Nope, the author decided to make this a young adult tale set in reality, which I deeply appreciated.

I feel I also need to praise the author for his deft handling of action scenes. The guy knows how to write them, write them well, and make them interesting and important to the ongoing plot. No, he doesn’t describe every damn riposte like R.A. Salvatore, but in my book that is a good thing, since he gave me the silver screen excitement without a clinical lecture on fighting technique.

As for the world building, For Steam and Country is set in a solid, steampunk world. Not all of it is revealed, not every strange kingdom is highlighted, but there are glimpses of this place, its people, and its past inserted naturally into the ongoing tale. The steampunk machines and contraptions scattered throughout the narrative appearing in a very seamless manner with enough detail added to clearly describe them, but the author not falling into the trap of turning every item introduction into an excuse to fill pages with steampunk techno-babble. And there is even tons of foreshadowing about the amazing things not yet seen to whet ever readers appetite for more in the future.

The only real problem I had with the book is more attributed to my personal reading preferences (i.e. I generally do not like young adult) rather than anything wrong with the narrative. So while I did find this book to be a tightly scripted, fast-paced, and fun story, there were parts of it regarding our protagonists slow maturation and evolving relationships which I found difficult to stay interested in, not because Jon Del Arroz did a poor job crafting those elements but merely because I don’t find those sort of plots very compelling anymore.

Even with my anti-young adult tendencies, I have to say that For Steam and Country was an enjoyable read, introducing me to some interesting characters caught up in a thrilling adventure, while all around them a really cool steampunk world began to take shape. All in all, I’d definitely recommend it to those who enjoy young adult or fun, action-packed steampunk, and I can’t wait to see where Jon Del Arroz takes this series in the future, because it definitely has the potential to be a fine ongoing series, in my opinion.

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank him 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 3 Stars, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (SEPTEMBER 18, 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.

Another week and even more books to fit into the hectic schedule. As always, I’m finishing off a few books while also trying to cram some new ones into the mix.  Newest first.
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veiled empireVeiled Empire by Nathan Garrison

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Sundered World Trilogy #1

Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse (May 26, 2015)

Length: 560 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

The Empire is Shrouded, not only by the barrier that covers the land, but by the lies and oppression of the mierothi regime. Magic is the privilege of the elite, and the people of this shadowed country have forgotten what it means to hope under their rule.

But there are some who would resist, with plans put into motion millennia before. For returned to the Empire is a valynkar, servant of the god of light, and with him come the strength and cunning that could tip the scales to end the Emperor’s reign. He has gathered a group of heroes ready to ignite the flame of rebellion and fight against the dark power that has ruled for nearly two thousand years. A power that has champions of its own.

Nathan Garrison’s Veiled Empire throws a mythical land into chaos, with races long thought forgotten, and magics only just discovered. Steel and sorcery clash as brave souls vie for freedom and control in this astonishing debut novel.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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revenant windsRevenant Winds by Mitchell Hogan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Tainted Cabal #1

Publisher: Self-Published (September 5, 2017)

Length: 440 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

In a world devastated by a series of cataclysms over millennia, where the followers of different gods vie for ascendancy, mankind carves out a precarious existence among the remnants of a desolated past. Cities and civilizations are built atop mysterious and ofttimes menacing ruins, and the unforgiving wilderness beyond is filled with inhuman creatures and races from before the dawn of history. Sorcery is seen by some as a gift of the gods, and by others as their curse. And the demon-ravaged past has all but been forgotten.

As a secret cabal schemes to awaken an evil thought defeated millennia ago, the lives of three unlikely heroes are fated to converge:

Aldric, a veteran priest and sorcerer, who seeks acceptance from the church that shuns him. On the brink of their approval, he receives a mission that brings him face to face with a long-buried evil.

Niklaus, master swordsman, and slave to his goddess, who plots to split the veil between life and death and ascend to become her equal.

Kurio, the runaway daughter of a noble family, now turned to thievery, who stumbles across a disturbing secret that binds her future to infernal designs.

Drawn toward a horrifying endgame by an unknown force, Aldric, Niklaus, and Kurio find themselves in a battle not only for their lives, but for the beliefs that have come to define them.

A wrong decision, an overreaching ambition, or the failure of an already tormented faith, is all it will take to plunge mankind into an eternal dark.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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THE MAN IN THE TREE

the man in the treeThe Man in the Tree by Sage Walker

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Books (September 12, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Facebook

Length: 368 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

A murder mystery wrapped in techno science fiction trappings, The Man in the Tree is an elegantly crafted tale of a future where mankind’s main hope of surviving ecological disaster is to send its people out into the universe.

The year is 2029.  Earth has been decimated by world-wide ice melt; rising sea levels swallowing huge portions of the continents.  The catastrophe causing huge portions of the remaining land to turn into arid wastelands.  The only arable land left for farming now at the poles. World populations have naturally plunged.  Wars have escalated.  Borders have changed.  New political unions formed.   And though there is a possibility that earth might heal itself of the pollution, the remaining world powers decide to hedge their bets on humankind survival by building a seedship to send off into space.

The Kybele is the first such seedship.  Likely the only one.  A huge, hollow asteroid turned into a multi-generation colony ship with its own internal sun, river, forests, fields, and thirty thousand colonists ready to set out on a one way trip to a distant planet that might or might not be habitable.  And the huge ship is near completion; the last work crews soon to depart, the final members of the “dreamers” about to come on board and ready for departure.  Then a man is found dead!  His lifeless body discovered hanging from a tree in the wilderness of Kybete. A murder investigation quickly beginning.

Helt Borresen is an Incident Analysis aboard the Kybele.  He will be leaving with the rest of the dreamers soon.  And while he is alone, he has recently met a woman whom he wants to have a relationship with: Elena. But, now, Helt is tasked with uncovering who this dead man is, how he died, and, if it was murder, who did it.  Unfortunately, Helt’s investigation soon points toward Elena being involved!

Never having read any work penned by Sage Walker, I have to admit not being prepared for the precise, elegant, and seamless prose she exhibits in her writing.  Every page of this book was as smooth as silk; every conversations portrayed in a realistic way; and the technological marvels rendered in a believable and understandable manner.  If for no other reason than being introduced to the author’s fantastic writing, I am truly glad I read this novel.

In my eyes, the other real strength of this story is a fully realized world.  The seedship itself a detailed, believable behemoth which felt very real the more you read.  The hollowed out interior with its mechanical sun, semi-wild forests, cultivated fields, small villages, familiar restaurants and shopping areas exactly what one would expect with an ark built to keep generations of humans comfortable during a two hundred year voyage to another world.  And while much of this story took place in offices, labs, and governmental-type territory, those also felt normal, not foreign, to my earthbound mind.

This narrative also successfully dealt with many complex issues, giving a reader plenty of things to think about after putting the book down.  Global warming.  Immigration.  (Only 30,000 dreamers can go on the ship, and if you don’t fit in, you are deported back to earth.) Humanities intrinsic ability to always cause its own problems.  And the concept of love and what you will do or give up to keep it.  Each of these issues dealt with in an evenhanded and tactful manner.

As for my main complaint, it would have to be the pacing of this slow burn scifi murder mystery, which felt very sluggish at times.  Certainly, it did keep progressing forward with different twists and turns, but the relationship between Helt and his prime suspect Elena was the main element of the plot much of the time and just did not produce enough tension or suspense to liven up a narrative which suffered from a lack of any real surprises until near the end.  I suppose it all comes down to personal preference, and I openly admit that I like my mystery more fast-paced with edge of the seat tension or pulse-pounding excitement.  Unfortunately, The Man in the Tree was not that type of book.

This is a science fiction mystery which many fans will love.  It has a beautifully rendered world, subtle depth of meaning, and fantastic prose from Sage Walker.  While I did not enjoy it as much as I hoped, I definitely will be reading more from this author in the future.

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 3 Stars, Near-Future, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: THE FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD

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Flashback Friday is something I do here at Bookwraiths every once in a while; a time when I can post my thoughts about books that I’ve read in the past. With the hectic schedule of day-to-day life, there never seems enough time to give these old favorites the spotlight that they deserve, but with a day all to themselves, there is no reason I can’t revisit them.

Today, I’ll be taking a look back at an overlooked classic fantasy by Patricia A. McKillip!

forgotten beasts of eldThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tachyon Publications (July 11, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 240 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a wonderfully written, richly textured, high fantasy from Patricia A. McKillip.  Even though it is quite limited in length, it is still filled with insightful moments and fascinating insights; all of it set in beautifully rendered fairy tale world.

Sybel is a young, powerful sorceress, who has spent her life in isolation, her interaction with humans nonexistent.  She knows nothing outside of her mountain home, nor does she really wish to know.  Her only companions the magical creatures of her home.  So when a baby is brought to her she isn’t quite prepared for the emotions this innocent child will evoke — nor is she ready for the power struggle she will be brought into when someone returns for the child.

What always catches me unprepared whenever I read (or reread) a Patricia A. McKillip novel is her unbelievable prose.  It isn’t elaborate or flowery, merely lyrical and purposeful.  Every word has its place and its use in her narratives, yet she never feels a need to expound unnecessarily.  Important events taking place in pages rather than chapters.  Concise, meaningful, and lovely.  That is how this author writes, and I only wish more fantasy offerings these days mimicked her style.

As for the story itself, it was poignant, quick, and emotional.  Sybel’s life, her choices, and the ones she love caught up in the quagmire she has unknowingly been drawn into.  Her words and response to both the child and that which comes later filled with a layer of meaning and depth which will truly touches a reader’s heart strings.

As for any criticisms or complaints, I have none.  McKillip has always been a writer I was in awe of, especially her amazing ability to craft an exciting fantasy tale that still finds a place for both dignity and seriousness in its pages, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld was no exception, making me wonder only why it took me so long to actually read it.

Lyrical, complex, concise, and emotional, this novel is one I will be readily espousing to lovers of high fantasy, fairy tales, and beautifully writing.  Patricia A. McKillip isn’t an author spoken of very often these days, but she should be, because her works are treasures of the genre.

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 3 Stars, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, High | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

AN ALCHEMY OF MASQUES AND MIRRORS

an alchemy of masques and mirrorsAn Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by                       Curtis Craddock

Genre: Fantasy — Steampunkesque

Series: The Risen Kingdoms #1

Publisher: Tor Books (August 29, 2017)

Author Information: FacebookTwitter

Length: 384 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is crisply written, cleverly plotted, and highly imaginative; a fantasy which succeeds in combining elements from different speculative fiction genres into an entertaining opening to The Risen Kingdoms series.

The tale begins with dashing Musketeer Jean-Claude racing against time to arrive at the birth of the girl who will become the center of his life: Isabelle. This offspring of royal, bloodshadow magicians nearly killed after birth due to a deformed hand. Only Jean-Claude’s timely intervention saving her and thereby creating their strong bond.

Skip forward two decades, Isabelle is a young woman who has grown up being verbally abused and mocked by her father due to her lack of magical powers. This mistreatment culminating in the youth’s best friend Marie being assaulted by her father, transformed into a “bloodshadow” who is not alive but certainly not dead either; this hollowed out ghost of Marie acting as a reminder of Isabelle’s failure to find her magical power. But, our determined princess has found ways to survive and flourish, secretly studying and excelling at science and mathematics (Both subjects forbidden to women.), even going so far as to publish treatises under a male name. The only person who knows of her successes Jean-Claude; this musketeer pretending to be a drunk so as to subtly watch over his beloved Isabelle, even as he aids her in plotting an escape from her father’s household.

Circumstances take an unexpected turn, however, when a messenger arrives from the Kingdom of Aragoth. Prince Julio of that kingdom asking for Isabelle’s hand in marriage. The messenger being honest with Isabelle that this is a political arrangement, where the Prince must marry a woman of a house blessed with magic and she is the only suitable candidate. This future as the future Queen of Aragoth allowing her escape from her present situation but also sure to be filled with political machinations, courtly intrigue, and unlooked for deadly surprises!

What sets An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors apart from other recent fantasy offerings is the refreshing world building. Airships. Floating islands. Musketeers. Gunpowder. Magic. Clockwork cyborgs. Curtis Craddock incorporating these elements (and many more) into this world, creating a very unique setting which demands readers’ full attention, while also threatening to overwhelm them with the massive amount of information. Yet somehow, someway, the author never goes too far with his explorations of the setting, immersing his readers fully yet never submerging them completely.

As for the characters, they are what I would call standard with a twist. Standard in that Isabelle is the usual princess who is gifted yet ignored, abused yet determined, held back yet destined for greater things. And, Jean-Claude is the middle aged protector, who loves his ward as a daughter, and is willing to go through hell itself to see her safe, secure, and happy. All of which means readers have encountered these two archetypes before in other stories, but Mr. Craddock does add his own unique take on both with Isabelle actually showing how competent she is instead of just telling everyone and Jean-Claude behaving like a middle-aged musketeer would, not able to fight, run, or do anything like he once did.

The narrative itself starts off fairly slow, but the pacing does steadily pick up speed once Isabelle makes her choice regarding the marriage proposal. Villains rear their heads. Politics take center stage. And Isabelle and Jean-Claude must find a way – difficult as it may be – to survive the growing cataclysm in which they are embroiled.

The only criticism I can level at this novel is that it is a two character show: Isabelle and Jean-Claude. If you love them, then you will love the book. If you don’t like them, then the unique world building and exciting plot will not save the day here. I say that because this is truly an emotional journey about these people and their bond, not an action-adventure or epic fantasy which happens to focus in on a character or two.

Beautiful, compelling, and emotional, Curtis Craddock has crafted a unique fantasy with An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, one which will delight many fantasy fans. No, it didn’t inspire me as it has so many other reviewers, but even I can acknowledge its unique creativity, pulse-pounding excitement, and delightful humor. Certainly, this is a novel lovers of strong female leads should immediately go pick up.

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 3 Stars, Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

INDIE WEDNESDAY: FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY

Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to include self-published and small press works in my reading schedule.  But it is difficult to know where to start: So many new authors and books to examine to find the perfect fit for my tastes.  And to help others with this same problem, I’ve decided to talk about any indie/small press books which I have recently been enjoying.

Well, this week, I’ve been enjoying the hell out of Jon Del Arroz’s recently released YA steampunk!  This story a return to the old-fashioned adventure tales from years gone by; its pages action-packed, filled with steampunkery, humor, and always entertaining!

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for steam and countryFor Steam and Country by Jon Del Arroz

Genre: YA – Steampunk

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher:  Superversive Books (June 15, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 279 pages

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED!

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Most of you will have noticed little activity in the last few days.  The reason is simply that I have been busy on hurricane activities i.e attempting to get ready for everything to be blown to hell and back at my home.  And now I am attempting to sit out the storm then clean up and get electricity back on.

Wish me the best.  Say a little pray for me and my family.  And enjoy the old posts while I’m gone.

Best of,

Wendell

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: A HANDFUL OF MEN

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Flashback Friday is something I do here at Bookwraiths every once in a while; a time when I can post my thoughts about books that I’ve read in the past. With the hectic schedule of day-to-day life, there never seems enough time to give these old favorites the spotlight that they deserve, but with a day all to themselves, there is no reason I can’t revisit them.

Today, I’ll be taking a look back at another classic  fantasy series by Dave Duncan!

a handful of menA Handful of Men by Dave Duncan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: A Handful of Men #1-4

Publisher: Open Road Media  (July 11, 2017)

Author Information: Website

Length: 1457 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

A Handful of Men is the sequel series to Dave Duncan’s classic fantasy A Man of His Word. While it takes place among familiar environments in the world of Pandemia and involves several of the same characters, this offering is a much different work: deeper worldbuilding, several shades darker, and incorporates many major moral dilemmas for our heroes. It is a more grown-up fantasy, if you will. Please don’t take that to mean this is a depressing work or a grimdark in any way, because it isn’t; Dave Duncan mixing in enough daring-do and humor to keep this series fun and entertaining from first page to last.

Fifteen years have passed since the happily ever after ending of A Man of His Word. People have grown old, matured, traveled along different paths, and the world itself has changed. But even greater change appears to be ahead.

Pandemia is nearing the 3000 millennium. A time when the prophecies say great upheaval and disaster will fall upon the world. Something which historically happen at the turning of every millennium when the Protocal (The treaty which keeps magic out of politics, bars it from use in war.) always seems to be threatened. No matter all that, Rap doesn’t pay much attention to the warning, shrugging it aside as mere fear mongering.

All that changes when a god appears to Rap one night. This divinity assuring our former 5 word wizard that not only are cataclysmic changes coming, but they are all Rap’s fault, and only he can fix them!

From this beginning, an epic saga spirals out. Disaster falling upon Pandemia. Returning faces like Rap and Inos playing huge roles in the attempt to halt the destruction, right old wrongs and find a new equilibrium. These old favorites now changed people of the “elder generation” who watch as younger, fresher faces take major roles in the titanic struggles.

This evolution of beloved characters is one of the most brilliant things about A Handful of Men, and probably my favorite element of its narrative. Dave Duncan able to portray older, realistic versions of the people readers loved from the first series; these “heroes” still themselves, but so very different in fundamental, honest ways, struggling with previous decisions from their youth when they were certain they were making the right choices, but didn’t realize what those choices would lead to in this future.

Rap, in particular, is a wonderful example of the realistic process of transformation which Duncan orchestrates. In the first series, this young stableboy was the optimistic dreamer who wanted to right every wrong, make the world a perfect place for all. But now he has aged, become a bit more jaded, and a great deal wiser. This evolution summed up by a single conversation.

“Why do you not use your powers to help your people, Rap? Why not divert storms from Krasengar, fill the larders single-handed, stamp out disease? You could make your town a paradise.”

“Because . . . Because I think I would produce a nation of idlers and degenerates! I should end up doing all the work and probably gain small thanks for it in the end, when everyone began taking my blessings for granted.”

After a moment he added, “People value happiness by what it costs.”

Needless to say, the young, idealistic Rap would never have uttered such a sentiment. Fifteen years of experience and countless mistakes have made him realize utopia comes with consequences, even in a world fueled by magic; no matter how pristine the motives of the doer.

The other triumph of this series is the fun quota. Dave Duncan never forgets that his readers are devouring his story to escape from reality, and while it is fine for the narrative to contain moral dilemmas and serious issues, this is not a social commentary where every real world issue must be faced and answered in the political correct way. Nope, this is classic fantasy where the goal is to enlighten while entertaining, not beat your reader over the proverbial head with your personal causes at ever turn.

As for any criticisms of the series, I don’t have any. I read this years ago, knew exactly what sort of fantasy story I would experience, and enjoyed it for exactly what it was. So nothing here bothered me in the least.

A Handful of Men is a classic fantasy I always recommend to my friends. Certainly, it would be better read after having first feasted upon A Man of His Word, but it can be enjoyed alone. What I usually emphasize to those who ask is that Dave Duncan is a vivid storyteller with a fine eye toward crafting entertaining stories. There are issues dealt with, quandaries presented, but at the end, a reader knows he/she has been entertained, dazzled, and whisked away from the normal world to a magical place they dearly wish they could remain in. And that, my friends, is all a great fantasy can ever be expected to deliver.

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, Flashback Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BEST FANTASY COVERS VOL. 8

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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 Demon Shroud by T.A. Miles

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9. The Sword of Midras by Tracy Hickman & Richard Garriott

sword of midras

8. The Rebels of Gold by Elise Kova

the rebels of gold

7. Shadowborn by David Dalglish

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6. Numenera: The Night Clave by Monte Cook & Shanna Germain

the night clave

5. The White Song by Phil Tucker

the white song

4. Darien: Empire of Salt by C.F. Iggulden

darien

3. The White Serpent by Tanith Lee

the white serpent

2. Hunter of Legends by Clayton Taylor Wood

hunter of legends

1.  Descent by Stacey Rourke   

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