'Writing for me is not about speeling, grammar or punctuation – that’s why we have editors.... No, writing for me is the ability to capture a story and put it in words.' - Fantasy Muse

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Reaper's Awakening

Reaper's Awakening: Book One of The Essence Chronicles by Jacob Peppers.

Front Cover


Cameron Shale is a Harvester, an agent of the Church whose duty is to save the kingdom’s people by gathering the essence of those chosen to be sacrificed. He does his saving not with a surgeon’s knowledge, or a Priest’s prayers, but with the sword. They call him a murderer. They call him the Reaper. His kind are hated—and he more than the rest—but they are also necessary.

For there is evil waiting, a plague ready to wipe out all those in its path, and it is only with the essences of those sacrificed that it is held at bay. They survived it once. They will not survive it again. But when a shadowy figure known only as Memory emerges leading a rebellion against the Church and king, Cameron is forced to ask questions about a past that has haunted him his entire life. The kind of questions that can only be asked with steel. The kind that can only be answered in blood.

My Review

An interesting sounding story, and generally I thought the book was good, not excellent but good, with potential.

The story follow Cameron Shale, a Harvester, who works for the Church to do their deed. At the start of the story, Cameron is a stoic, devout and loyal man to the Church, but as the book progresses, doubt begins to grow.

I thought the story was interesting, but admittedly a little confusing to follow initially. The pieces did come together near the end. The main protagonist, Cameron, was done well, and his character was defined, but I did feel the other characters were less so.


Overall I thought the book has potential and I enjoyed the twists in the story. The ending sets up nicely for the sequel which I will be keeping an eye on.

Out of 10 Stars:

6 Stars

Buy it here:

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Son of the Morning

The Son of the Morning: Book One of The Nightfall Wars by Jacob Peppers.

Front Cover


Fifty years ago, the nightwalkers appeared, creatures of shadow and darkness, thirsting for blood and death. Thousands died and the kingdom of Entarna was brought to its knees. Then the Chosen came, six men and women endowed with powers by Amedan, the God of Fire and Light. The Chosen joined with the kingdom’s armies and together they managed to defeat the night’s creatures. At least for a time. 
Alesh, servant to Chosen Olliman, the greatest of Amedan’s priests, knows well what the darkness holds. He saw it, as a child, when his father and mother were killed, and he was left with a blackened, festering scar that refuses to heal.  
The day wanes and the night comes again, but when those chosen to protect the kingdom are unable or unwilling to help, when the fellowships of the past have crumbled, it is left to an orphaned servant—a man many believe to be cursed—to stand against the rising darkness.

My Review

My second review of the year, and in quick succession too, I guess I must be on a roll.......anyway on to the review.

This book in many ways reminds me of The Painted Man Novel by Peter V. Brett. The premise is very similar for those who have read the book, in that once night fall descends, monsters begin to roam the land and the only defence is light.

The main protagonist is called Alesh, who is an apprentice / servant to a powerful priest, called Olliman. The story starts of fine but really picks up once the city revolts. After that the pace quickens and you fly through the pages with action.

There are two other main characters, and their POV switch often, which stunted my enjoyment a little bit at first, but the pieces started to come together near the end and you got that 'a-ha' moment. 

A word of warning, the book is deceptively - for me at least - more violent than I had assumed, but I liked that, it wasn't the tasteless violence you see in books nowadays, but rather added a mature edge to it.


I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait for the sequel. If you're looking for a darker fantasy, with an interesting story that's similar to The Painted Man Novel by Peter V. Brett, then this is a must read.

Out of 10 Stars:

8 Stars

Buy it here:

Amazon US

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Lady of the Forest: Robin Hood & Marian

Lady of the Forest: Robin Hood & Marian, Book 1 by Jennifer Roberson

Front Cover


As the gates of Ravenskeep swing open and a young woman flees into the primeval depths of Sherwood Forest and into the arms of the man she loves, a saga of exceptional power and remarkable passion begins... 
He is Sir Robery Locksley - the heroic nobleman who has turned his back on all he knows to embark on a dangerous quest for justice in an England torn apart by treachery, betrayal, and war.
She is Lady Marian of Ravenskeep - the proud, defiant knight's daughter who leaves her sheltered life behind to join a shadowy band of outlaws who follow no law but their own.
Robin Hood and Maid Marian - their love has belonged to legend for centuries, and now it belongs to us all, stunningly brought to life by the masterful pen of a truly gifted storyteller. Against a medieval tapestry of color and pageantry, Jennifer Roberson has woven a rich, sweeping tale of a woman whose courage and passion could forever alter the destiny of that mist-shrouded land of lore we know in our hearts and see in our dreams.

My Review

I am a little embarrassed that I haven't posted since July of last year. All I can say is that I've been busy and also a part of me wanted a break, but I am back and hoping to post at least once a month.

And so moving on to the book. I've always been interested in the famous tale of Robin Hood (I've watched the Kevin Costner film a few times) and Jennifer Roberson is the author of one of my favourite books, Tiger and Del, and so it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Unfortunately it didn't quite end up like that. 

The story follows Robin (Robert of Locksley), who has returned from imprisonment by Saxons whilst on crusade and Marian, who has just learned about her father's death who was also on crusade.

The book has other familiar characters, Sheriff of Nottingham DeLacey, Guy Gisbourne, Big John, Friar Tuck etc.

The biggest gripe that I have with the book, is how much inconsequential words flood this book to make it 600 odd pages long. I struggled to read through it, as every characters thoughts and actions were described in painstaking detail. Roberson also structured the book so multiple POV were exchanged within the same passage of text, which just adds to the intricate book.
As a result the plot seemed relatively short and by the end of the book, I felt that not a lot had happened.


It wasn't all bad, and if you take away all the flowery passages then you are left with a half decent book, that despite all the faults I've just described kept me hooked to the end. Jennifer Roberson is without doubt a talented author and I am sure I will read more books from her.

So my advice; if you are a desperate Robin Hood fan, then this book will offer you some pleasure, but otherwise, one to miss.

Out of 10 Stars

5 Stars

Buy it here:

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Madness in Solidar

Madness in Solidar: The Ninth Novel in the Bestselling Imager Portfolio (The Imager Portfolio Book 9) by L. E. Modesitt Jr.  

Front Cover


Four centuries after its founding, Solidar's Collegium of Imagers is in decline, the exploits of its founder, the legendary Quaeryt, largely forgotten. The Collegium is so lacking in leadership that the dying Maitre must summon Alastar, an obscure but talented senior imager from Westisle far to the south who has little knowledge of politics in the capital, as his successor. When Alastar arrives in L'Excelsis and becomes the new Maitre, he finds disarray and lack of discipline within the Collegium, and the ruler of Solidar so hated by the High Holders that they openly refer to him as being mad. To make matters worse, neither Rex Ryen, ridiculed as Rex Dafou, nor the High Holders have any respect for the Collegium, and Alastar finds himself in the middle of a power struggle, with Ryen demanding that the Collegium remove the strongest High Holders and the military leadership in turn plotting to topple Ryen and destroy the Collegium. At the same time, Ryen is demanding the High Holders pay a massive increase in taxes while he initiates a grandiose building project. And all that, Alastar discovers, is only a fraction of the problems he and the Collegium face.

The Imager Portfolio#1 Imager / #2 Imager’s Challenge / #3 Imager’s Intrigue / #4 Scholar / #5 Princeps / #6 Imager’s Battalion / #7 Antiagon Fire / #8 Rex Regis / #9 Madness in Solidar / #10 Treachery’s Tools / #11 Assassin’s Price

My Review 

L. E. Modesitt Jr.  is without doubt one of my favourite authors, I have read many, not all admittedly, but many of his works and although, if you are familiar with his books, they are all mostly rather formulaic in structure and plot, but it is a formula that I can never get bored off. It's a formula that is the reason why I first began my love of fantasy - the hero against all odds, uses wit, power and courage to triumph against evil, oh and gets the girl in the end. 

Madness in Solidar follows in the same captivating structure and follows Alastar, who becomes the new leader of the Collegium of Imagers (the ability to create items by focusing their imagination and willpower) at a point where the Collegium is a mess and on the verge of ruin, and more importantly so is the kingdom.

Alastar is tasked by the kingdoms ruler, Rex Ryen, to convince the High Council of Holders (land owners) and the factors (traders) to a tariff increase, so effectively an increase in tax.

Alastar is unfortunately in the unenviable position of dealing with the abject state of the Collegium he was inherited with, the arrogance and greed of the High Holders and Factors, and the erratic, approaching on the crazed behaviour of the ruler Rex Ryen.

In short, it's a frothing cauldron, on the precipice disaster.

For those who have never read his works, L E Modesitt has a rather unique writing style, and if I had a single word to describe it, it would be - mature.
Not to say boring, but Modesitt stories are never simple, but weaved from layers of intrigue, mystery and complexity. There is also a moral learning lesson behind his words. 
His main character's are always thought provoking and intelligent, and Alastar is not different in that sense but he is slightly older than Modesitt's other books. The advantage of that is that Alastar is not second guessing himself or his powers and is confident in who he is and what he can do. I liked Alastar's character, particularly the cold ruthlessness he demonstrated once all avenues were closed off.

I really enjoyed this book and I should add it is not necessary to have read the other Imager books in order to follow the story, as it can stand on its own, but it may broaden your reading experience if you have read the previous books as there some subtle hints that are alluded to in it.


In summary this book is a must for any Modesitt fans and those who enjoy rich fantasy told in a sophisticated style then give this book a try.

Out of 10 stars:

7.5 Stars

Buy it here:

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Soldiers' Redemption

Soldiers' Redemption (First Cohort Book 1) by M. R. Anthony.

Front Cover


Captain Tyrus Charing and the men of the First Cohort have fought on the wrong side for as long as they can remember. They have travelled from one battle to the next at the bidding of the cruel Duke Warmont, fighting endlessly for a man they despise. 
Now they want something different. They want to fight for the right people and for a deserving cause. There is hope for Captain Charing and his men – a saviour has come and she needs good, loyal soldiers in order to overthrow the Duke.
As the First Cohort try to pay for the sins of their past, they discover they’ve taken on far more than they could have imagined. They are unbeaten in battle, but the Duke does not care how many die, so long as he stays in power. 
Amongst his generals are sorcerers of great power, and an inhuman brute of callous evil, all of whom are eager to face Charing’s men. 
Soldiers’ Redemption is a brutal and gritty fantasy epic, about strength, bravery and an unwavering determination to beat the odds.

My Review

I like tales of redemption and characters finding hope after despair, and so this book instantly drew me in.

The story follows Captain Tyrus as he commands a group of 500 odd soldiers. They are called the First Cohort and are famed and feared in equal measures. They serve a tyrant called Duke Warmont, and after so long tire, from the endless killing, but they find redemption in the most unlikeliest of circumstances - a young woman, who becomes their saviour.

I found the book very well written and the words flowed nicely. The author did a great job capturing the description, particularly the fighting scenes, which often reminded me of Roman military but thankfully less convoluted. 

Captain Tyrus was a fascinating character, and shrouded in a little bit of mystery. The book was told from his point of view and you got a real sense of the conflict swirling in his mind and the sense of shame and regret of his past, but also the hope to be a better man.
I admired the rapport he had with his men, it was natural and infused with leadership, and I couldn't help but like the character.

As for the storyline I don't want to spoil it by revealing too much, other than to say, I was absolutely riveted by the book until I reached roughly 2/3 of the way in. For me the story just seemed to stall and near the end, it did seem to drag, which I thought was a shame as this book has a lot of potential.]
I was also initially confused with the start of the novel as the story seemed to be told midway through and a good chunk of information missed, eventually after reading a few chapters, I did manage to put the pieces together to form a more clearer picture.


For those who like a tale of redemption and a main character who is not simplistic but more profound in personality, will enjoy this book. 

Overall - even though the book fizzles out slightly near the end - I thought this book holds a lot of promise and I will be reading the sequel. 

Out of 10 Stars:

7 Stars

Buy it here:

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Wild Wastes

Wild Wastes by Randi Darren.

Front Cover


Before world war two could reach its conclusion, the world suffered what could only be defined as a cataclysm.
Legend has it that an experiment failed. Catastrophically so. And when it failed, the center of the United States, from the Sierra Nevada to the Mississippi river became "The Waste", where everything changed.
In The Waste, every fantasy creature, fairy tale demon, or mythological monster exists. From Orcs, to Neriads, Ogres, Trolls, Wratihs, Elves, Harpies, and even Beastmen. They all exist, and all despise humankind.
In the ruins of the west and east coasts new governments have arisen. With new jobs.
Vince is a Ranger, a profession whose sole job duty is surviving in the waste, and taking missions from the Ranger Guild. Be it courier services, escorts, or simply exploring tombs and cities.
Taking up an escort mission, Vince encounters a situation that will shape his life forever onward.
As well as the lives of everyone in North America.

My Review

I wasn't really sure what to expect after reading the blurb. The premise of the book was different, in that it mixes a modern world with fantasy, all in a post-apocalyptic setting. The centre of America has been transformed into a waste which has sprouted fantasy creatures such as elves, dwarfs, orcs etc.
Our main character is Vince who is a ranger, and as the story starts he encounters a female orc who attacks him. After defeating the orc, instead of killing her, he saves her.

The story then follows Vince as he befriends other supernatural creatures (mostly all female) whilst trying to prevent two kingdoms from breaking into an all out war.

I liked Vince as a main character, he wasn't an idiot or weak and made good decisions. There was an added mystery surrounding Vince's past which did leave me intrigued.

I do have to warn potential readers that this book has a heavy dose sex and some violence.


Overall the book is a bit dungeon and dragons, which I enjoyed but I was looking for a quick entertaining read, and not anything substantial. I would say this book is more catered towards young men, but beyond the sex there is an intriguing story at play which kept me interested throughout.

Out of 10 Stars:

7 Stars

Buy it here:

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Review of 2016

Hopefully your 2016 had been a great year, if not then you got 2017 to look forward to, but in the meantime I'd like to review the year in terms of the books I've read and mention the top three standouts. 

So, coming in third...

Lost Soul (Harbinger P.I. Book 1) by Adam J Wright.

Bit of a surprise for me actually to pick this book as my top 3 but I really enjoyed the simple and effective writing style, and a main character who you can actually like without the endless eye rolls.

Now second place goes to....

The Russian Assassin: A Max Austin Thriller, Book #1 by Jack Arbor. 

I know this blog is called Fantasy Muse but I enjoy reading other genres, especially action thrillers, and I thought this book was thoroughly entertaining and reminded me a lot of the Bourne series, not in terms of the storyline but relatable in regard to action, suspense and a protagonist you can root for. 

And lastly my favourite book of 2016 goes to....

Hell Divers (The Hell Divers Trilogy Book 1) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

When I thought back to the books I've read this year, the one that flashed immediately to my mind was Hell Diver. From the beautiful front cover to the last page, I loved how unique this book was. The story captured my imagination and even after finishing the book, my mind kept drifting back to the novel and I can't wait to find out what the sequel will be like. 


I wan't to finish my last post of 2016 by wishing you a successful and fulfilling 2017 and for me, I'm looking forward to reading books that will continue to inspire me to dream new adventures.

I'm ending on a few words I put together...hopefully they might have some meaning for you for the new year to come...

I am fighting for my belief, my purpose. I have conviction and will as strong as an oak against the mightiest of winds, as strong as the rock against the pounding of the waves. You will not break me. You can snap every bone in my body, tear flesh out of by body, but you will not break me. This I promise. This I vow.
Fantasy Muse