'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, 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



Synopsis


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.

Conclusion


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




Synopsis


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.


Conclusion


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




Synopsis


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.

Conclusion


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: