Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Angel and Louis

The Reapers by John Connolly is an enjoyable read and continues my admiration for the way this man writes, and the stories he tells. This book focuses on Angel and Louis, specifically Louis, and the world they inhabit. When you're a consummate, suave killer like Louis you are bound to lead a special lifestyle, especially when your partner is a man of very specific talents like Angel.
Connolly is a great atmospheric writer, and his novels are told in a particular style almost mystical noir, and The Reapers is no different. The Reapers of the title are the nickname for the worlds greatest killers, of which Louis is one, and we discover how Louis became what he is, and why someone wants him dead.

I can't say enough that more people should be reading Connolly's novels, especially if they enjoy their thrillers to have a little twist into the mythical in them. I should also state now that I think Angel and Louis are one of the best couples in fiction, definitely the deadliest.

What a read

Anyone looking for an intelligent fantasy novel, that is a great read can do no wrong if they pick up Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself. First in a trilogy The Blade Itself kicks of the story by introducing us to the main characters and setting up the world that the books will take place in.
We meet Logan Ninefingers (or the Bloody Nine as he is sometimes called), a great barbarian warrior from the north who is running away from his homelands. We have the selfish army officer Jezal dan Luthor who is trying to make it as a duellist by doing as little as possible, and finally Inquisitor Glokta, a torturer who is hideously deformed after being tortured himself, who is investigating a large conspiracy that seems to go deep into the government. The stories of these three characters become intertwined as events unfold, and the reader discovers that there is a lot going on in this world.

Abercrombie juggles these various plot lines with skill and builds up a detailed picture of the wider world. With well written dialogue, and heroes who aren't afraid to do questionable things The Blade Itself will make you want to finish the trilogy just to find out what happens to these great characters.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Orcs is 'ere

I have always had a thing for orcs. When I played Warhammer the first army I collected was an Orc and Gobbo one, and since then I have sympathised with the greenskins. Therefore I approached this book with feelings of glee and Orcs by Stan Nicholls did not let me down. As you can probably imagine from the title the main characters of these books are orcs.
Nicholls takes us into the world of the Wolverines an orc warband lead by Stryke as they try and survive the various factions out to destroy them. Orcs is a great fast paced read, that flies along from battle to battle as we all know orcs love a good fight. It's nice to see humans as the invader and destroyer for a change as the orcs try to stop them eating the magic of the elder races.

The books in this omnibus collection reminded my of Glen Cook's Black Company series with its focus on the foot soldiers rather than the generals. Nicholls also does a great job of fleshing out his characters and giving them motivations and feelings. And like Cook, Nicholls characters have very distinctive voices.

Overall Orcs is a great read and something that any fantasy fan should pick up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I heard it on the grapevine ...

While reading Feminist SF - the blog! I saw a feature they had on there top ten obscure science fiction novels. Some of them caught my eye so I decided to read some and see what I thought.
The first one was Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. I do not know this book or author so I sat down not quite sure what to expect. The cover quotation by George R R Martin filled me with hope, so I began to read.

Having now finished it I can't describe how much I enjoyed reading this novel. I loved the setting, and I loved the characters. The plot was interesting and Kushner's prose kept me coming back for more.

In the suburb of Riverside Richard St Vier is something of a rock star, a highly sought after duellist who fights for which ever rich patron pays him, while his partner Alec helps him negotiate the politics of the city, and is drawn to the violence in Richard.

A wonderful novel, Kushner describes a vibrant city and Riverside comes to life through its inhabitants. Well worth reading if you can find a copy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Sean Williams and Shane Dix's Evergence series is well worth reading. Set in a far future it is full of action and intrigue, space opera with ideas. Williams and Dix aren't afraid of mixing interesting concepts with their action scenes, and the series never becomes a race from one fire-fight to the next. They will continually throw something thought provoking or interesting in your way.
The main characters we meet are Morgan, Cane and The Box. Morgan is a intelligence officer on a special and secret mission that involves various powers in the universe. In her care is The Box, a portable A. I. who is being hunted, and who seems to have an important roll in the future of humanity. Finally Cane is a mystery man found floating in space, who has no memory of his past but has skills and abilities beyond normal.

The three books in the series are a great read, and would be enjoyed by any fans of science fiction.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Monarchies of God

I picked up Hawkood's Voyage by Paul Kearney on a whim and I must say I wish I had more whims like this. I didn't know what to expect from this novel and thought that the blurb had sounded interesting with the usual things, war, political intrigue and adventuring to be had.
Well, once I started I found it difficult to stop. Kearney's style would be familiar to fans of David Gemmell but there is still enough to make his writing unique to him. Like Gemmell, Kearney's characters are living and breathing in the world he has created for them. Also like Gemmell there is a gritty feel to the world Kearney describes. Decisions have consequences, and they aren't always pleasant. Also fights are presented in a real style, where people can be seriously injured or killed, rather than feeling that the main characters will escape without a scratch.

Enough about that though, lets have a look at the story itself. Kearney's world is one beset by enemies within, and without. From the east the Marduks (think Saracens) are slowly invading the Western Kingdoms (think Christian Europe), while the Inceptine's (think Inquisition) are rooting out heretics within the Kingdoms. Into this mess one King decides to support a voyage to cross the Great Western Ocean and see what is on the other side.

Kearney drops you into the middle of the action, and it doesn't let up, whether it's political scheming or adventuring. There is so much to like about this book, and I hope the rest of the series (called The Monarchies of God) manages to continue in the same vein. I'm looking forward to finishing it, and then reading more by Kearney.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Jennifer Fallon's fantasy series called The Tide Lords has just come to my attention. I have enjoyed immensely reading this series, and hope that Fallon continues to write in this world.
In this series the world of humans is served by the Crasii, animal slaves that walk and talk like humans. The world was run by the Tide Lords who are immortal but disappeared from human affairs. The Tide (forces of magic) is coming in though and the Tide Lords are beginning to appear, and they want to return to the way things were before which is spooking the humans. And then there is the Immortal Prince who just wants to die.

The series is full of political machinations, action and good dialogue, and is well worth getting in to especially those who like a little political intrigue with their fantasy fiction.

Cortes the Killer

The Conquest of Mexico by Hugh Thomas is a doorstop of a book. But don't be put of by this, as he is a great writer who will make the pages fly by.
This particular book deals with the history of the Aztecs, and the coming of the Spanish and what happened after they landed. It is packed with detail, and shows the amount of research that Thomas undertook to write it.

The history of Mexico that this book covers is full of evocative names like Montezuma, Cortes, and El Dorado. This is a book full of sweeping history, told in a readable style.

Faceless drones.

Douglas Copeland's JPod is set in a world of moral greys. Our main character is one of six game programmers (the JPod of the title), who work for a large game design company. Like other books by Copeland he writes about large faceless corporations and their effect on the individuals who work for them.
Copeland likes to poke fun at modern society, and he continues this trend in JPod. Gamers and people who work in computer software will get many of the jokes he throws around. While these jokes are never laugh-out-loud funny they do hit their mark, and the book does have its moments.

Reader's could be confronted by Copeland's use of pages of binary, and pages without punctuation but if they stick with it they will be rewarded.