Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Death and Dishonour Book Review

Title: Death and Dishonour
Editor(s): Alex Davis, Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781844168064
Title: Death and Dishonour

Death and Dishonour is the newest short story anthology in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, and features some big named Black Library authors.

I have to admit: it's the first real Warhammer Fantasy novel of any kind that I've ever read, -- and for that matter finished-- and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's truly an amazing collection of stories, and within the first couple stories I was hooked and felt right at home. Although there's some technical terms and the like that I had no clue about when reading it -- and still don't, but I'm hoping to remedy this in the next few months -- it was still easy to get lost in, and enjoy. Unlike some other universes where you automatically need to know the back history of the universe before you dive into any kind of literature, this collection was very basic in that regard.

Compiled of nine fantastic pieces, this anthology is chalked full of awesome stories that are gauranteed to make you think, including two of the most famous duos, and one of the most brutal bounty hunters in all the Old World.

This selection of shorties starts off with a classic duo that many people are very fond of: Gotrek and Felix. Although I own all three Gotrek and Felix Omnibus's, I've only read a hundred or so pages of the first novel from this duo. But now that I've read Red Snow, I've bumped up the first Omnibus in my personal To-Be-Read Pile, and am extremely looking forward to it.

Following a few short stories later, is Noblisse Oblige, featuring the second duo to grace the pages of Death and Dishonour: Florin and Lorenzo. This was my first real look at these two, and I have to say that their Omnibus is on my To Buy list. I've flirted with the idea of picking it up in the past, but always found a reason to get something else. The story seemed to read as if it were just another adventure wherein the two friends get in trouble once again and have to find their way out. I mean, isn't that how some of the greatest duos are? But with this story, it doesn't seemed forced like some fictional pieces that I've read in the past.

To wrap this whole anthology up, is the final short story: Wolfshead, which features Brunner the Bounty Hunter. A character that, until I picked this book up, I have never heard of before. Now that I've read this piece of amazingness, I feel like I've been cheated on all these years for never knowing he existed. However, there is good news! Sometime in the month of May, I'll have the Brunner the Bounty Hunter Omnibus in my greedy hands, and hopefully I won't be too blown away that I can't write a review. I've read C.L. Werner's books about Matthias Thulmann the Witch Hunter, so hopefully it'll be just as good, and if this story is any indicator, I have I'll be in for one hell of a ride.

But, that's not all for this anthology. Each short story is sperated by three others, filling in the awesomeness with more amazing! Out of the six though, are some true gems, such as: Rest Eternal by Anthony Reynolds, and The Judgement of Crows by Chris Wraight, both of which blew me away with endings I never expected.

The others were interesting, but they for one reason or another just didn't score too high with me, and I admit that part of it's because I am so new to this world. However after reading each of them I wanted more of the Old World. For instance: The Assassin's Delimma for me, introduced the Skaven to me and because of it, I want to find out more. And The Last Ride of Heiner Rothstein threw in a whole new element for me that I'm not quite used too yet, which is the whole concept of black powder weapons. I'll admit that the majority of the fantasy I read doesn't have anything remotely close, or as cool as pistolier korps.

Over all, I was quite impressed with this anthology. Alex Davis, Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, have far surpassed my expectations as editors. With very little spelling, punctuation or grammar errors, it's a solid book, and each story reads smoothly, and the flow from one story to the next is fluid. Not once did I think about sitting this book down to pick something else up to read. That's why I'm giving Death and Dishonour 8.5 TARDIS's out of 10. This is Sword and Sorcery in a large scaled world at it's best, and I can't wait to read more!

For anyone who has never delved into the fantasy universe of Warhammer, but have always wanted to, I would highly suggest picking up a copy of Death and Dishonour. It's a good starting point and stepping stone into what I hope will continue to be an amazing universe.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spellbent Book Review

Title: Spellbent
Author: Lucy A. Snyder
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9780345512093

Spellbent is the ambitious, brilliant and funny debut novel of author Lucy A. Snyder.

Back in February I had the opportunity to meet Lucy, and her husband and fellow author Gary A. Braunbeck at a local signing in Indianapolis. I had previously only met them once before, back in '07 at Mo*Con II, and thoroughly enjoyed talking to them both and picking their brains on writing and the like. So, needless to say when I found out they were coming back to Indy again I knew I couldn't pass it up. And man, am I glad that I didn't. A fun night was had by all: Mr. Braunbeck read from one of his short stories, while Mrs. Snyder read an excerpt from Spellbent, and I walked away with more books that what I had walked into the store with, including a signed copy of Spellbent. Always nice.

I took it home and devoured it in about three sittings. It kept me spellbound from the very start, and continued to pull me in every time I tried to put it down. Snyder has a way of blending genres -- as most urban fantasy is all about -- and making the reader want more, and Spellbent has everything in it, including: Romance, Fantasy, Adventure, Horror and Mystery, with a good splash of humor thrown in. It reminded me a lot of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, in many ways, including the blending of genres and the epic scope that this seris could pan out to be, exceept Snyder doesn't take three books to get to the meat of the story.

Jessie Shimmer is a witch-in-training; an apprentice to her boyfriend Cooper, who's damn good at what he does. But while the two are casting a simple rain spell to help out the local farmers, things go haywire and Cooper disappears, leaving Jessie left with only her new ferret familiar, Pal. With no money, limited magic and a target on her back, Jessie takes it upon herself to find out what happened to her boyfriend and to set things straight, leaving destruction and death in her wake; she'll stop at nothing to find out what really happened to Cooper, and all I can say is: I WANT MORE!

Spellbent was one hell of a ride, something that caught me off guard. I didn't initially think it would be so fast paced and addictive, but Mrs. Snyder unlike many new authors, knows what she's doing, and I'm excited to see what she does with the second book in the trilogy, -- previously titled The Devil in Miss Shimmer -- Shotgun Sorceress. There are a handful or so of characters that are only met in passing, or for that matter mentioned, that I think would make badass characters, that I hope to see return, but only this time play a bigger role.

Over all, this debut novel is a first time experience that is well worth the read if you get the chance to pick it up. That's why I'm giving Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder 9 TARDIS's out of 10. It's definitely going to be on the top of my list for 2010!

And if you get the chance, keep cecking back: in the next month or so I'll be doing a podcast interview with not only Lucy, but also with her husband, Gary, and I have a feeling it's going to be a good one!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Black Tide Book Review

Cover Image

Title: Black Tide
Author: James Swallow
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9781844168057

Black Tide -- the fourth book in the Blood Angels series -- follows the events that take place in Red Fury. The Blood Angels home planet has finally been secured against the forces of Chaos, however, the mastermind behind the attack, Chaos Traitor Fabius Bile and the stolen vial of the Blood Angels dead Primarch's blood are still at large. The Chapters honor demands nothing less then the return of the vial, and hopefully the death of the traitor, before Fabius's unholy plans for the vial can come to full fruition. Tasked by Chapter Master Dante himself, rother Sergeant Rafen and his band of battle brothers must hunt down Fabius and return his chapters sacred relic, no matter the cost.

Black Tide is a novel full of action, driven by bolter fire and the roar of chainswords. Over four hundred pages of non-stop warfare, that will take the reader from an abandoned asteroid facility to a devoured planet full of ravenous beings hungry for the flesh of space marines. However, -- and this could be seen as the one shortcoming of the book -- no matter what manner of obstacle is thrown at the Blood Angels the conclusion of Black Tide is predictable. Even after Rafen is captured and thrown into Fabius's personal jail cell -- surrounded by the failed genetic experiments of the Traitor Apothecary -- the feeling of impending doom and lost hope is never definite; the idea of the characters not making it is never questioned. The genetically engineered space marines really do come across as invincible in this addition to the Warhammer universe.

While Swallow doesn't get you into the "mind" of a soldier, as do other Black Library authors, he does do an excellent job of bringing the full weight of over forty thousand years of Warhammer universe history into the story line. You really feel the burden weighing down on Rafens armored shoulders as he searches desperately for the eons old traitor in possession of his long dead Primarch's life-blood.

If your after a book that is driven by more then just action, Black Tide may not be the safest alley to travel. However, if non-stop action and blood spilling on every page is something to look forward too, then I highly recommend this addition to the Blood Angels series. Eight out of Ten Sonic Screwdrivers.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Marsbound Book Review

Title: Marsbound
Author: Joe Haldeman
Publisher: Penguin Group
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780441017393

The Dula Family are to be one of the first families in space, and more importantly, one of the first families to travel to Mars. They're not alone on this journey however, there are other families on the shuttle that is to take them to Mars, where on the surface of the red planet humans have built a forward, scientific station.

At first, Carmen Dula is nervous and unsure of her future in space, but the idea slowly grows on her, and she quickly finds herself adapting to her new life in space. Marsbound is her story. From the space elevator ride, to the nine month trip to Mars, Carmen slowly matures into a women -- and whether she likes it or not -- something much, much more. Along the way, she finds love, enemies, and oh, and sentient life in the form of a mishapened patatoe with more legs and eyes than what's natural for an earth-born spud.

The paperback edition of this book clocks in at around 290 pages, but once finished, feels like a four hundred page novel has been read. Haldeman does a beautiful job with pacing, breaking the story up into proper parts, and only sharing the important details in description, sacrificing scientific babble and fluff for more story driven material. All the while building the story into a solid woven piece that stands strong against some of the loose mortar that could have been exposed and chipped away, when it comes to the exterior of the piece.

But luckily enough, Marsbound doesn't have that problem. Although the first sixty pages or so are slow, Haldeman makes up for it soon after, forcing the reader further into the story. With well thought out characters, an interesting take on aliens, and a fresh new take on science, Haldeman takes old ideas and breathes new life into them, leaving enough detail out to make the reader want to know more.

Although abrupt, the ending is solid in that it tacks a nice end onto the story, while still leaving many, many loose strings hanging in the air, for Haldeman to come back and tie together. And thankfully enough, he is. Marsbound is the the first book in a projected trilogy, with the second: Starbound, already out in hardback.

Originally written as a stand alone, I now understand why Haldeman has stretched it further. With attractive enough characters for the average reader to want to come back to, and interesting loose ends still left untied, I highly recommend this book to any and all who have a love for science fiction. That's why I'm giving Marsbound by Joe Haldeman 8.5 TARDIS's out of 10.

I had high hopes for this novel -- I mean after all, it's written by the same author of The Forever War -- and to be honest, I wasn't disapointed in the slightest. It's good clean fun, and I'm looking very forward to getting my grubby hands on a copy of Starbound.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Podcast #9: Book Review for Darkness on the Edge of Town

Title: Darkness on the Edge of Town
Author: Brian Keene
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9780843960914

One morning the residents of Walden, Virginia, woke up to find that the rest of the world was gone. Just... gone. Surrounding their town was a wall of inky darkness, casting Walden into permanent night. Nothing can get in, no light, no people, not even electricity or radio or TV signals. And no one can get out. No one who dared to penetrate the mysterious barrier has ever been seen again. Only their screams were heard. But for some of the residents-turned-prisoners of Walden, even the fear of that unseen death can't keep them from trying to escape this living purgatory.