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.

This week I’ll be trying to finish the books I started last week (Real life really put a stop to my reading time) and beginning a novel I can’t wait to dive into.  This new book by an author I’m growing to like more and more:  Brian McClellan!

sins-of-empireSins of Empire by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #1

Publisher:  Orbit (March 7, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 624 pages

An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.

The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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last yearLast Year by Robert Charles Wilson

Genre: SciFi – Time Travel

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor (December 6, 2016)

Author Information: Facebook | Twitter

Length:  351 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

Time Travel.  Alternate timelines.  Dystopian themes.  Action and adventure.  Love story.  All these themes and more integrated by Robert Charles Wilson into an intriguing story, appropriately called Last Year.

Time travel is now real!  People from the 21st century having developed a way to open stable time portals to the past.  Quickly, these scientific endeavors becoming monetized, as the “past” is turned into resort destinations, where — for a kingly price — people can have the ultimate vacation experience!

There is only one draw back to all this: the “past” is transformed into an alternate world.  A timeline which diverges from the future and goes its own way.  But, thankfully, this doesn’t cause any negative consequences for the 21st century, rather the new, modified past peacefully co-exists side-by-side with infinite alternate times.

One such vacation destination is Jesse Cullum’s late 19th century Ohio.  A time where a luxurious resort of sorts has sprung up around the time portal from the future.  The local residents becoming part of the vacation experience, as well as holding all sorts of jobs at this time resort.  And this includes Jesse, who is part of the security force.

Together with his partner Elizabeth (who is from the future), Jesse spends his days tracking down illegal contraband being smuggled in from the 21st century, things like electronic devices, unpublished novels, drugs, and many other things — both large and small.  The job suiting Jesse, especially since he and Elizabeth are lovers.

But then something horrible happens.  An event Jesse knew might happen, but one he tried not to think about.  Because time portals can only be kept open for certain time frames, and now it is time for Jesse’s portal to close, causing Elizabeth to return to the future.  And Jesse must either let her go or expose a huge secret in order to stay with the woman he loves.

Overall, Last Year is a rousing time travel tale, which introduces some cool ideas, and takes the plots to interesting conclusions.  There is very little focus on the actually time travel aspect, except in its effects on individuals in the past, but when Wilson focus on this element the narrative succeeds wonderfully.

As for the love story between Jesse and Elizabeth, it was well crafted, fairly realistic under the circumstances portrayed, and quite entertaining for the most part.  At times I did have to suspend my disbelief at some of the lengths Jesse goes to for love, but since I’m a fully recovered romantic my struggles with this theme isn’t really surprising or noteworthy.

Where the narrative faltered for me was the action and adventure plot line.  It started off strong, then fell into fairly traditional, unsurprising paths.  Nothing inherently wrong with a standard thriller story line.  I know many people will love it.  I was just hoping for something a bit different and unexpected, I suppose.

Definitely, Last Year is a fine time travel story, one many people will find immensely entertaining.  While I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would, I still found Robert Charles Wilson’s ideas and writing style to my liking and look forward to reading more of his works in the future.

I received an advanced reading copy of 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-crimson-campaignThe Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Powder Mage #2

Publisher: Orbit (May 16, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  608 pages

My Rating: 5 stars

Fantasy lovers! Flintlock aficionados–
And everybody else here who just loves great books:
Today, today, you find yourself equals.
For you are all equally blessed.
For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure
Of introducing to you a middle book of a series which does not suck,
A tale which can proclaim that it is better than its predecessor in every way.


When I first picked up The Crimson Campaign from atop my huge t-b-r pile,
It instantly dazzled me with its exciting action,
Awed me with its battle scenes,
And clearly announced that Promise of Blood was no one time wonder.

Next, this splendid novel amazed me further still with its characters,
Who grew and evolved in their personalities
From their close brushes with death
As meted out by their individual enemies.

And those powder mages who dazzled me in book one returned,
Spending their page time showing off their mesmerizing powers
Just so I could understand exactly how awesome they really were.

And so, without further gilding the lily,
And with no more ado,
I give to you the Middle Book Masterpiece,
The Grower of Great Characters,
The Provider of Powder Mage Awesomeness,
The One –
The Only –
The Crimson Campaign!

Picking up a short time after book one, things have not really improved for Field Marshall Tamas and his beloved country of Adro. In fact, Tamas’s attempt to blunt the huge Kez invasion has resulted in him and the Powder Mage Cabal being trapped behind enemy lines, pursued by a superior force of cavalry, and desperate for food and ammunition. All of Tamas’ legendary military brilliance needed to lead his forces across northern Kez, so he can get back home before the Kez overwhelm Adro.

Back in Adopest, Taniel “Two-Shot” has survived his attack on the god Kresimir but is stuck in a drug induced state, trying to come to terms with killing a god. Many people – including Ka-Poel – attempting to rouse him to action, since the Adro army desperately needs their hero back on the front lines. The remaining Adro generals unable to defend against the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Kez troops – and the one-eyed god who supposedly now leads them.

Meanwhile, Inspector Adamant continues his pursuit of the devious Lord Vetas. His every thought focused on saving his wife and children, then killing Vetas slowly. Quickly, Adamant begins to calling in every favor he is owed, stooping to lengths he never thought he would, and even resorting to blackmailing powerful people to get the resources to finally bring the fight to Lord Vetas himself.

There are so many great things to praise about this book that I really don’t know how much to gush. Honestly, I loved ever page of The Crimson Campaign. It had no flaws, negatives, or issues I recall.  Pure pulse-pounding entertainment from cover to cover.  So instead of writing paragraph after paragraph of everything I loved about this novel (and trying to uncover an issue I can bitch about), I’ll merely say, “ It’s great. Everything about it. You should read this flintlock fantasy series NOW!”

Purchase the book at Amazon

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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 our topic is …


Seasons change.  People change.  Reading habits change.  And so to do our favorite books.  Sure, we might still think back fondly on a book  from our teen years, but how many of us would really want to read it again?  Probably not many.

And the same sentiment goes for authors as as well.  We love one, then our tastes change, and we move to the next.  However, a small handful of writers take hold in our minds, causing us to return to them over and over again through the years.  These are our All-Time Favorite Authors, and I decided I’d share my short list — which, I’m sure, is unique only to me.  Maybe, though, we will have some in common.


theblastedlands10. JAMES A. MOORE

My go-to author for my 21st century sword and sorcery.  James A. Moore has been thrilling me for several years with his fresh take on the old genre, adding in horror elements, and breathing some life into (what had become) a pretty stale world building cycle.  I’ve loved every one of his fantasy novels and will be following him for quite some time, I can tell.


gunslinger29.  STEPHEN KING

Many will be surprised Mr. King isn’t further up the list.  Probably those people will not know (or have forgotten) that other than The Stand my Stephen King reading is limited to his Dark Tower series.  And my feelings about that epic runs the gamut from my complete love of the first three books to my loathing of the last book.  I still love the way Mr. King tells a story however, which is why he is among my favorite writers.

prince of thorns8. MARK LAWRENCE

Prince of Thorns is my favorite grimdark.  I’m sure everyone knows that by now, because I’m always saying it.  Sure, I haven’t loved every other Mark Lawrence tale as much as this first one, but I’ve found that I do enjoy the way Mr. Lawrence writing style.  His dialogue always feels real.  The people seem alive.  And the tale unfolds organically before your eyes.  Nope, I don’t love every story, but I do love the way this guy writes them.

traitors_blade7. SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL

Yeah, yeah, I’m judging Sebastien de Castell based on only three novels.  My response is, “But, damn, they are great novels!”  More than merely my affinity for the story and for its lead character Falcio, I’m drawn to this author’s story telling ability and his amazing ability to take pure swashbuckling excitement and make it serious, mysterious, emotional, and hilarious in equal doses.  Okay, I admit being a Greatcoat fanboy, but that is exactly why Sebastien de Castell is among my favorite writers.

promise of blood6. BRIAN McCLELLAN

I came late to the flintlock fantasy party, discovering Brian McClellan’s amazing Powder Mage trilogy after so many of my reading friends already had.  Honestly, I only finished that trilogy in the last few days. However, it and the numerous Powder Mage novellas have turned me into a dedicated fan of Mr. McClellan, one who can sense that this isn’t a flight of fancy but a long term commitment.  So I feel no issue with going ahead and placing this fantasy author among my All Time Favorites.

foundation5. ISAAC ASIMOV

I haven’t read all of Asimov’s books.  Fifteen is all I’ve ever gotten around to.  I always return to them once a decade or so for rereads though.  And they have all stood up to the passage of time reasonably well.  (Okay, societal issues are clearly a bit dated, but what books aren’t after several decades.)  Still fun, exciting, and full of thought provoking sentiments.

lord foul's bane4. STEPHEN R. DONALDSON

I grew up reading Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books, so I’ve been a fan of his work for years.  Mordant’s Need.  Gap.  Short story collections.  Whatever he writes, I usually pick up when I can find the time and enjoy.  Still have to finish the last Thomas Covenant series though.  That is the only Donaldson work I’ve found it difficult to get swept up in.  I’m still a huge fan though and always will be.


the time of the dark3. BARBARA HAMBLY

As the only female author on this list (I do notice these things.), Barbara Hambly has always remained firmly entrenched among my favorite authors.  Darwath being probably my favorite series by her, one I rank among my very favorite fantasy series ever.  Sure, I haven’t loved every book she has ever written, but the vast majority have been stories I return to over and over again during my life.

Chronicles of the Black Company2. GLEN COOK

The Black Company.  Glen Cook is synonymous with this grimdark masterpiece.  And it was the book which turned me into a lifelong fan of his.  Decades later, I still love everything he writes.  His writing style fits my reading tastes.  His characters interest me.  His themes speak to me.  And the best part is I still haven’t read all his books, so I .


lord of the rings1.   J.R.R. TOLKIEN

Your first love is usually the best remembered and the one most fondly recalled.  Tolkien has been my favorite fantasy author since I was a preteen.  He always will be, I suppose.


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It might be 2017, but the same old routine continues.  And so 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.

Since my quest to finish several unfinished fantasy series is going so well, I see no reason to change direction.  And so this week I’m returning to a trilogy I let fall by the wayside a few years ago: Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne.

For those you concerned I’m missing out on lots of great new books by my focus on yesterdays releases, please do not worry, because I’m also going to be trying to find time to read a new release as well:  Kings of the Wyld.


the providence of fire

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley.

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Series: Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1

Publisher: Tor Books (January 13, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 608 pages

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.

Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire’s most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.

Praise for the book.

“Brutal, intriguing and continuing to head toward exciting events and places unknown.”―Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Epic adventure that ratchets up the action and muddies the waters, all while completely throwing all expectations out the window….We can’t wait to see what happens next.”―io9

“Book Two finishes on a knife-edge and where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.”―Fantasy Faction

“It’s rare that a book comes along and blows my frigging mind. It’s even rarer when an author can pull this off not once, but twice. Brian Staveley pulled this off. Hard.”―Lit Chick Hit List

“Superbly written, sublimely enchanting, utterly engrossing, grabs-you-by-the-throat-and-refuses-to-let-go, and then you’re a shell of a person once you’re finished. Brian Staveley is not only an invaluable new voice to the epic fantasy genre, and the literary world at large, but he’s on his way to being one of the greats.”―The Book Geek

“… a stunning follow-up to The Emperor’s Blades …” ― Beauty in Ruins

Purchase the book at Amazon.


kings-of-the-wyldKings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Genre: Fantasy — Grimdark

Series: The Band #1

Publisher: Orbit (February 21, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 544 pages


Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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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 . . .


ghosts-of-tomorrowGhosts of Tomorrow by Michael R. Fletcher

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand alone

Publisher: Self-Published (March 1, 2017)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 394 pages

The children are the future.

And someone is turning them into highly trained killing machines.

Straight out of school, Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. No one expects him to succeed, Griffin least of all. Installed in a combat chassis Abdul, a depressed seventeen year old killed during the Secession Wars in Old Montreal, is assigned as Griffin’s Heavy Weapons support. Nadia, a state-sanctioned investigative reporter working the stolen children story, pushes Griffin ever deeper into the nightmare of the black market brain trade.

Deep in the La Carpio slums of Costa Rica, the scanned mind of an autistic girl runs the South American Mafia’s business interests. But she wants more. She wants freedom. And she has come to see humanity as a threat. She has an answer: Archaeidae. At fourteen, he is the deadliest assassin alive. Two children against the world.

The world is going to need some help.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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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 our topic is …


jackal of nar10. TYRANTS AND KINGS by JOHN MARCO

Back in 1999, I picked up John Marco’s The Jackal of Nar for the first time and was highly impressed with the amazing world and vivid characters.  The next two installments only further convinced me that this was a series worth keeping on my bookshelf, so I could reread it from time to time.  Not as many people liked it as much as I did though, which is a shame, because Tyrants and Kings might not be A Song of Ice and Fire, but it is still a really good epic fantasy.

shadow-of-ararat9. OATH OF EMPIRE by THOMAS HARLAN

Alternative history with a fantasy leaning is how I always recall this very engrossing series from Thomas Harlan.  I loved every minute of it, have all the books in the series in hardcover on my shelf.  Other, less enamored readers criticize the books by saying they were not “historical” enough, had too much magic, or were too plodding in their pacing.  Certainly, these people are entitled to feel that way and express their opinions, but I for one felt the series was a solid read from beginning to end.


Okay, I admit I’m a Glen Cook fan, and back in my younger years, I was even more of a fanboy for anything he wrote.  Honestly, I loved everything — even the few books that might not be considered his best.  Darkwar, however, is one I’ve reread several times in my adult years and still find as clever and entertaining as I did years ago.  Certainly, this isn’t Cook’s best work, but it is right up there, which is why it surprises me that so many others do not like it as much as I do.

when the heavens fall7. WHEN THE HEAVENS FALL by MARC TURNER

The opening salvo in Marc Turner’s The Chronicle of the Exile series.  A fantasy epic shaping up to be on par with Malazan.  Yes, it has loads of characters in diverse places forcing you to get your bearing quickly or risk losing your way, but that is what makes it so much fun, at least in my opinion.  Surprisingly, more people did not enjoy this story and continue on with the series.  Sad really, because they are missing an epic in the making.

black city saint6. BLACK CITY SAINT by RICHARD A. KNAAK

Not being a huge urban fantasy aficionado, I wasn’t sure if Black City Saint would be something I would enjoy.  It was though.  The main character with his outdated persona and mysterious identity pulling me in.  Probably the magical plot line also lent itself to my fantasy tastes.  Whatever the reason, Black City Saint was one of my favorite urban fantasy reads, which is why I couldn’t believe more readers didn’t also love it.


Not being a steampunk aficionado but loving anything with zeppelins, I was instantly drawn to this series by the amazing covers.  (Hey, I never denied being a cover lover.)  Once I cracked these action adventure books open though, it was the swashbuckling tales of Romulus Buckle and the crew of his zeppelin which kept me turning pages.  I really wish more people would jump on this bandwagon, because I know Mr. Preston has loads more stories to tell of this steampunk world.

the-last-sacrifice4. THE LAST SACRIFICE by JAMES A. MOORE

James A. Moore has become on of my favorite sword and sorcery writers these days.  I absolutely loved his Seven Forges series and really wanted to enjoy this new endeavor by him in a completely new world.  And, thankfully, I did like it, very much actually.  Others did not, however.  Not sure why my fondness for it is greater than other readers, but I really hope they continue on with this, because (whatever it’s flaws) The Tides of War is going to keep getting better and better from book to book.  Just like Seven Forges did.


Realistic grimdark is how I always characterize Bloodsounder’s Arc.  Jeff Salyards doing his utmost to add a feeling of authenticity to events, relationships, and combat in a fantasy world.  Definitely, this focus on realism does cause Scourge of the Betrayer to start off slow and gradually build up speed as it carries along, but by the end — and especially in the next book — the story is near non-stop action.  All of it caused by the solid foundation book one builds ever so slowly.


Never having had the pleasure to read the first edition of The Unremembered, I can’t really say whether that version of the story deserved the very loud criticism it has received in many, many reviews.  Having read The Author’s Definitive Edition, however, I can say I really enjoyed this new, improved version with its huge world, creative magic system, and interesting characters.  Hopefully, more people will give the new version of the novel a go, because (even with its similarities to other epic fantasy, such as Wheel of Time) Peter Orullian still delivers an entertaining story.


When I wrote my review of this brutal grimdark story, my description was “If J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin had gotten together to write a grimdark interpretation of THE HOBBIT, THE DRAGON ENGINE would have been what they came up with.”  And I still stand by those words today, because, with this novel, Andy Remic produces one of the grittiest grimdarks I’ve ever read; a novel which grabs you by the throat and forces you to take a look at the harsh, gory truth of war and fantasy adventuring.  SCertainly, I understand why many people didn’t find it to their liking, but it really should get more respect for being one of the best gridmarks out there.  

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It might be 2016 instead of 2017, but the same old routine continues.  And so 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.

Continuing on with my quest to complete all my unfinished fantasy series, I will be focusing on Brian McClellan’s amazing flintlock fantasy series, The Powder Mage Trilogy.  This week I will be devouring The Autumn Republic.

the-autumn-republicThe Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Powder Mage #3

Publisher: Orbit (February 10, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  580 pages

The capital has fallen…
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…

THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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guest-post2Today, I’m happy to have my son, Connor, return to the blog for yet another of his graphic novel reviews.  Thankfully, this is becoming something of a regular occasion, and I personally will be enjoying it for as long as it lasts.


aquaman-vol-8Aquaman: Out of Darkness by Dan Abnett

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Aquaman #8

Publisher: DC Comics (December 6, 2016)

Author Information:  Twitter

Length: 114 pages

Connor’s Rating:   connor-capconnor-capconnor-capconnor-cap


When I received this book at Christmas, I was excited to get it. As a huge fan of Aquaman, I always want to read the next book that comes out. Sure, I was sad this would be the final issue of the New 52 series before the Rebirth relaunch, but I figured our hero would go out with a BANG!

The story here is about how Aquaman wants to show surface dwellers that the Atlanteans are humans too. He sends Mera off to be the ambassador to the rest of the world and starts using “Spindrift Station” to allow the surface people and Atlantis to interact with one another.


There is stuff other than politics going on though. The villain here is this horrible serial killer named Dead Water, who can teleport through water. With ties to other villains, Dead Water gives Arthur a good battle, which is fun to watch.


Overall, I liked this final New 52 Aquaman story. It wasn’t quite as good as Vol. 7 though. Don’t get me wrong, this book was still fun to read. I just think the writer ran out of ideas. I mean, there were some good ideas her, just not enough of them.

As for the art, it was really good. Loved it. Aquaman is a great character, and he deserves great artwork, which he got in this final volume.

Aquaman, Volume 8: Out of Darkness might not have done anything amazing or unexpected, but it is a fun read and a good ending for the New 52 Aquaman. Hopefully, more people will pick this run up and learn to love it and the character, because Arthur Curry is one amazing hero.

Well, I hope you liked this review, and if you are on Goodreads, friend me any time to talk about my reviews or comic books.

batman-V-superman-logoAbout Connor (In his dad’s words):

Connor is a preteen who enjoys graphic novels (DC Comics are preferred), superhero movies (Captain America is his favorite), watching episodes of The Flash, Arrow, and The Walking Dead as well as the NFL, NCAA football, and the NBA on t.v., will happily accept any and all caps (because you just can’t have too many caps), and whose favorite music right now revolves around old rock favorites of the past (Sammy Hagar’s Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy seems to be playing a lot.)  And, no, Connor did not have any input into my paragraph about him.  Being a dad does have it’s privileges.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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sword-of-caledorSword of Caledor by William King

Genre: Fantasy — Warhammer

Series: Tyrion & Teclis #2

Publisher: Games Workshop (November 27, 2012)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  320 pages

My Rating:  4 stars


Sword of Caledor is not only a great Warhammer story, but also a worth reading for anyone who loves sword and sorcery affairs.  Well-written, realistic, and gritty yet still possessing a mythical, legendary feel, this second installment of the Tyrion and Teclis series expands upon the excellent foundation the author, Willaim King, built in the first volume.

Taking place a century after Blood of Aenarion, the twins Tyrion and Teclis have developed into gifted and renowned High Elves.  Tyrion is now a legendary warrior, having fought numerous battles and raided the very coasts of the hated Drucchi, as well as growing into a budding politician, who eyes a future focused upon becoming the next Phoenix King.  Meanwhile, Teclis has spent the years developing his sorcerous powers, turning his innate abilities into fabulous skill; the days of his lingering on the edge of death due to continual illness a distant memory, as his health has (at least, in part) been restored through magic and alchemy.

Though their paths have taken these brothers in different directions, they are still very close.  Each keeping the other in his thoughts at all times.  Whenever they can arrange it, the two venture off on epic quests together, taking joy in the other’s company and in aiding their sibling to accomplish yet another personal goal.  And as Sword of Caledor begins, the twins are off on exactly one of these kind of adventures.

Surrounded by the lush wilderness of the jungles of mysterious Lustria, Tyrion and Teclis’ expedition continually faces sudden death.  Whether it be the native wildlife or the deadly lizardmen or the elements themselves, this unexplored wilderness is deadly.  Yet, the twins are undaunted by the danger, for they are searching for the ruins of an ancient Slan city said to be hidden from sight for millennia.  Their goal the fabled sword of Aenarion, which Caledor Dragontamer forged in the early days of the Elves and which has been lost untold ages.  This weapon something a future candidate for the throne of the Phoenix King would love to have in his possession.

Unknown to the twins, however, away in the far north of the world, Malekith the Witch King of Naggaroth stirs.  Too quiet has the accursed son of Aenarion been and for far too long.  Now, though, he has fitted into place the final piece of his grand scheme to unleash his might upon Ulthuan, crush the High Elves once and for all, and take back what has been withheld from his rightful grip.  And, no one can stand against him!

For a sword and sorcery fan, there was a lot to like in this story.  Gritty action.  Amazing world building.  Intriguing heroes.  Devious villains.  Vile plots.  But my favorite element of Sword of Caledor was the characters themselves, who really captured my attention and kept me rooted to my seat.

William King does an excellent job of continuing to mold and develop our heroes Tyrion and Teclis here.  These two have changed dramatically from where book one left them; each a mature elf now with their own distinct and very different personalities, motives, and flaws; the days of their immature, angst ridden youth left far behind.  This story gives them room to showcase that newfound growth, struggle through their own issues, and attempt to rise to the occasion, as threats surround them from beginning to end.  Real evolution in their personalities taking place from chapter to chapter.

Even with that said, I have to admit my favorite sections of the book were those focusing on Malekith and his mother Morathi.  Gaining a glimpse into their demented minds, seeing their bizarre relationship, and discovering more about their motives and desires really made them rise above cookie cutter villain status for me.  Quickly, these two grew into the epitome of grand villains; people whose behavior sickened and disgusted me, but whose reasons for it all almost made me empathize with them.  Talk about scary.

In conclusion, I have to end this review by admitting that the greatest thrill of reading Sword of Caledor was getting to return to this amazing fantasy setting.  The depth of history, unique personalities, intriguing characters, and earth-shattering magic captures my imagination every time I pick up a Warhammer story, creating in me a deep desire to learn even more about this place, meet even more of the legendary figures of this world.  Perhaps this is a feeling only I have about this fantasy setting with its elves, dwarfs, and other traditional fantasy races, but I really don’t believe that.  The brand of gritty sword and sorcery Warhammer offers is timeless in my opinion, and I believe the Tyrion & Teclis saga is a great place for any newcomers to sample its fantastical fantasy flavor.

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