Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quick Reviews

Here are I bunch of books I've read recently but am to tired to review properly, instead I'll just write up some one line reviews instead.

  • The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry. An engaging and very readable spy novel told as a collection of intelligence reports, surveillance notes, wire taps and transcripts.
  • The City and the City by China Mieville is an amazing detective novel that defies description. Read it and judge for yourself.
  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie is a great story of revenge told by one of the modern masters of the fantasy genre.
  • The Affinity Bridge by George Mann is a wonderful steampunk detective novel that is a lot of fun to read.
  • Up a Tree in the Park at Night With a Hedgehog by P Robert Smith is a brilliant debut novel that will make you laugh out loud.
  • Old Boys by Charles McCarry. When Paul Christopher's supposed ashes are handed to the American consulate in Beijing some of his friends are suspicious and they decide to find out where he is. Another great spy novel from a master storyteller.
  • The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt. Third volume in a great steampunk adventure series.
  • The Jackal of Nar by John Marco is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy. The story covers war, politics, love and loyalty.
  • Emperor's Mercy by Henry Zou. Chaos forces have invaded the Medina Corridor and it is up to Inquisitor Obodiah Roth to find out why. A fun read.

Game Boys

Michael Kane has written an interesting book about competitive videogaming, more specifically about the clans that play Counter-Strike in the USA. Game Boys: Triumph, Heartbreak and the Quest for Cash in the Battleground of Competitive Videogaming looks at the bitter rivalry between two of the top US clans 3D and CompLexity as they battle it out to be the top clan. 3D are the reigning champs at the time this book was written, the team with sponsorship and salaries, CompLexity are funded straight out of their managers pocket and need to keep win to maybe get some sponsorship.
It is a cut throat world where dirty tricks aren't unheard of and accusations of cheating are rife. Professional Counter-Strike players only have a relatively short time at the top, like all sportspeople, so they need to make the most of their talents, which can lead to all sorts of anxiety and stress.

A very well written book, Kane doesn't patronise his subjects, nor does he dismiss what they are doing as simply wasting time. By taking them seriously, Kane is able to show the many sides of the members of 3D and CompLexity as well as the other clans he talks to. Overall an intersting read. For more information visit the GotFrag eSports homepage.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tales of Heresy

Tales of Heresy is a collection of short stories set during the Horus Heresy.

  • Blood Games by Dan Abnett takes place on Terra and involves the Custodes as they guard the Emperor's Palace, and Terra, against traitors.

  • Wolf at the Door by Mike Lee deals with the Space Wolves 13th Company as they liberate the Lammas subsector.

  • Scions of the Storm by Anthony Reynolds is about the Word Bearers Space Marines.

  • The Voice by James Swallow concerns the mysterious Sisters of Silence.

  • Call of the Lion by Gav Thorpe loos at the Dark Angels as they explore system DX-619.

  • The Last Church by Graham McNeill tells the story of the Church of the Lightning Stone and it's last priest Uriah Olathaine.

  • After Desh'ea by Matthew Farrer looks at Kharn of the World Eaters Space Marines.

This is a great collection of stories that further expands events taking place during the Horus Heresy. Well worth reading, especially if you have read any of the other Horus Heresy books.

Here is Grasping the Winds famous SF/F/H Reviewer Linkup Meme 2nd Edition.

All the blogs below review SF, Fantasy and Horror. Click away.


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7 Foot Shelves

The Accidental Bard

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a GREAT read

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.' And so it begins. Seth Grahame-Smith has decided to embellish Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with zombies and turn the novel into a roller coaster thrill ride where anything goes.
Elizabeth Bennet is a young woman being trained in the martial arts by her father to help fight back against the hoards of undead roaming the countryside. When a handsome, but arrogant, Mr Darcy arrives Elizabeth finds herself distracted as the two spar on the dance floor and on the battlefield. Add to this mix ninjas, romance, comedy, sword fights and zombies and it's a winning formula.

I had lots of fun reading this novel, sure it is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it is still an enjoyable read all the same. This book may not be for everyone, but Austen fans with a sense of humour as well as zombie fans should enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Colours in the Steel

K J Parker is an amazing writer who has a great ability to construct a believable world for her characters to inhabit. Parker writes with a style and humour that makes reading her a joy.
Colours in the Steel is the first volume in Parker's Fencer trilogy which follows fencer-at-law Bardas Loredan. In Perimadeia, the centre of the known world, legal disputes are settled by duels between professional fencers. Loredan, a former soldier, has been doing this for a while now and is starting to grow tired of his life. He dreams of retiring and opening a fencing school, but events intrude upon his dream as Perimadeia finds itself under siege from the vast hordes that live on the plains.

As I said before Parker writes with such a flowing style that you just want to devour her books in one sitting. The world she has created sucks you in. I can't wait to read the rest of this series.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tales From the Dark Millennium

Tales From the Dark Millennium is a collection of short stories inspired by the short lived Warhammer 40,000 collectible card game. Set in the Pyrus Reach Sector which is under attack by Chaos, Ork and Eldar forces, it is up to humanity to stem the tide.

              • The Fall of Marakross by Steve Parker sees Dark Angel space Marines helping defend the city of Scala from a Chaos cult, but the Dark Angel's have their own secret reasons for helping.

              • Vindicare by C S Goto involves a Vindicare Assassin as she patiently waits to kill an Eldar leader on the planet of Orphean Trine.

              • The Prisoner by Graham McNeill deals with a visit to the prison on Orina Septimus by Inquisitor Lord Syphax Osorkon who has come with some Grey Knights to see a very dangerous prisoner.

              • The Invitation by Dan Abnett is about Cannonness Olga Karamanz and her Sister's of Battle and Catcher of Men Lowen Tegget as they hunt the same renegade.

              • A Balance of Faith by Darren-Jon Ashmore is about Sister Hospitaller Verinas' fight with the forces of Chaos.

              • Gate of Souls by Mike Lee sees Inquisitor Alabel Santos fight Chaos on the planet of Dirge.

              • Fates Masters, Destiny's Servants by Matt Keefe follows the Ultramarines on Elysium.

              • Tears of Blood by C S Goto deals with Eldar in the Tyrine System.

              A good collection to dip into, it is also small enough to read in one sitting.

              Tuesday, August 11, 2009

              Cruel and Unusual

              Daredevil is one of my favourite superheroes, but I'm glad I don't live his life. Writers seem to spend their time thinking up new ways to put him through the emotional wringer. Ed Brubaker is no different in this regard as he finds more ways to torture Matt Murdoch in Daredevil: Cruel and Unusual.
              After Murdoch's wife Milla is put into hospital Murdoch spirals into a world of pain and misery and takes to the streets as Daredevil to beat up on crooks in Hell's Kitchen. An old friend drags Murdoch back to reality by presenting him with a case that sparks his interest. A known criminal has pleaded guilty to a crime he didn't commit and is hiding something. As Murdoch and his friends dig deeper it becomes clear that there are organisations involved that do not want the truth to come out including the CIA, FBI, and a former Mob boss. Murdoch uncovers the truth, but not before another friend is hospitalised because of his actions.

              Brubaker is a great writer of Daredevil and really gets the character and his supporting cast. I just wish he could have some fun now and again.

              Final Crisis

              WOW! Just WOW! I was always going to wait and read DC's Final Crisis when it was released as a graphic novel collected edition and now that I have I'm glad I did because it was a wild ride.
              Grant Morrison always writes big. Everything he does has multiple layers and needs to be read more than once to get the full effect, and Final Crisis is no different. As the heroes of the multiverse fight to save their existence a plot is revealed that could change everything. As the blurb says: "Men of steel, and women of wonder, dark knights and lantern lights, those who ride the lightning and those who call it down - none of them can escape the shadow of the dark side - as it reaches out to extinguish the human flame forever. A hell without exit. A death that is life. An end to all stories. A Final Crisis." I can see that when this finished things in the DC universe would be different as a major hero dies, lives are changed and Superman proves why he is the ultimate superhero.

              What a read, it was like having me head filled with amazing ideas and watching scenes rush past at the speed of light. I need to read this again just to take it all in. Morrison has hit it out of the park, WOW!

              Monday, August 3, 2009

              6th June

              Antony Beevor has written a very readable account of the D-Day landings and the bloody battle for Normandy in his latest book D-Day. You might think that another book about WWII is redundant but Beevor has done a good job of making the material and sources seem fresh as he delves into the experiences of the soldiers and commanders on both sides.
              Beevor starts by looking at the planning behind the invasion and the build up of forces before the big day. We are then shown how tough the landings were especially on the American side. The expansion of the beachhead and the gradual advance into the bocage make up the bulk of the narrative as Beevor gives us an insight into the tough and brutal fighting that developed. Beevor also looks at the tensions between commanders on both sides.
              I like reading military history and have read I don't know how many books on the battle for Normandy, but I still enjoyed this new book. One for history fans and WWII buffs, or people looking for a very readable introduction to D-Day and what went on after it.

              The Flight of the Eisenstein

              Captain Nathanial Garro is a loyal follower of the Emperor and leader of the 7th Company of the Death Guard Space Marines. When Warmaster Horus' treachery is revealed on Istvaan III, Garro takes control of a ship called the Eisenstein and sets of to warn the Emperor about what he has witnessed.
              James Swallow tells this story with gusto in The Flight of the Eisenstein, which introduces us to Garro and shows us aspects of his character that lead him to wanting to warn the Emperor about the treachery of Horus, and the threat that Horus is to the Imperium. While the Eisenstein is fleeing from orbit around Istvaan III it is fired on and sustains dangerous amounts of damage, despite this it jumps into the warp where the Chaos Gods begin to play with the ship. Garro and his men must survive if they are going to warn the Emperor, but the longer they stay in the warp the less likely it is that they will be able to.
              Swallow does a good job of raising the tension and putting Garro through the wringer. If Garro succeeds maybe the Imperium can defeat Horus, but if the Eisenstein is lost in the warp Horus will most likely win. A good entry in the Horus Heresy series that focuses on the Space Marines themselves rather than the Primarchs for a change.