'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

Monday 26 August 2013

The Crystal Chalice

I've been quite busy for the last couple of weeks, so I haven't had a chance to read many books, but one book that I've just finished recently is 'The Crystal Chalice' by R.J. Grieve.

Front Cover


The Kingdom of Eskendria is facing the greatest threat to its existence since the fall of the legendary Old Kingdom. The cruel servants of the Destroyer, the ancient enemy of the kingdom, are creeping into the forests of the Forsaken lands ever closer to the mighty river that forms the boundary of Eskendria. Their goal: to annihilate it completely.
Eskendria's allies have deserted it and its mountain passes are terrorised by a nest of brigands led by their enigmatic leader, Celedorn - the greatest swordsman in the kingdom and a man with such a savage reputation that even the minions of the enemy are afraid of him.
As a final resort, Relisar, the last of the Sages, attempts to summon the champion predicted in an ancient prophesy to save the Kingdom in its darkest hour. But alas, age has diminished Relisar's powers and all he manages to summon is one ragged girl who can remember nothing about herself, not even her name.
The king, desperate to avoid a battle on two fronts, sends his eldest son, Andarion, to deal with the threat from the mountains, but he is facing no ordinary adversary in Celedorn and his plans go badly awry. The confrontation in the mountains sets in train a series of unexpected events that lead to Relisar, Andarion, Celedorn and the girl with no name finding themselves on a perilous journey across the Forsaken Lands in a race against time both to save themselves and Eskendria.
Yet no human being has crossed these lands in a thousand years and all that is known about them is merely legend. Are the rumours true that fragments of the Old Kingdom live on, hidden from the Destroyer? Are the stories about ancient and evil spirits haunting the forests only myth?
As for the companions, who is the girl with no name? And most of all, what is the dreadful secret that Celedorn is hiding that could affect the fate of the Kingdom?

My Opinion

I was little bit confused about the blurb when I first read it, so I'll give you a brief summary. The story follows two principle characters. Elorin, a mysterious woman who appears after a wizard performs a spell to summon a champion; she has no memory of who she is or why she was summoned. The other is Celedorn, a rouge bandit that lives in the mountain; he is your typical anti-hero. The book follows their adventures amongst the backdrop of an invasion from Turogs (think Orcs).

I really enjoyed the book and I finished it in one sitting. The story, whilst not original, was well written. The author has talent in characterisation and world building. It was so easy to close my eyes and picture the characters and their environment.

The book is fast paced and moves along nicely. I never once felt like I was reading through syrup.

One minor point of disconcert I found was the heavy reference to LOTR. I know most fantasy books nowadays are in some part influenced by the holy grail, but there were two scenes in The Crystal Chalice that were a touch too similar. I'm not going to describe them but if you do read the book then it'll be easy to spot.


Fans of fantasy who like a dose of romance will enjoy this book. I had a great time reading the book, and I'm hopeful there will be a sequel coming soon. I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on the author.

Out of 10 Stars:

7 Stars


Buy it here:

Monday 12 August 2013

Boy Nobody

The next book that is going to grace Fantasy Muse is not an indie book but a published one. It's called Boy Nobody and is written by Allen Zadoff.

Front Cover


Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target. When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.

My Thoughts

I stumbled upon this book from the excellent ‘Fantasy Book Critics’, who had reviewed it on their site. A story about child soldiers/assassins instantly drew my attention and got me thinking about how the author would handle such a delicate subject. Nowadays, you don’t have to delve too far in the news to read about such tragic stories, and so I was intrigued.

The book follows the main character, named ‘Boy’, and from the first chapter I was gripped. The story jumped straight in at full throttle and within the second page I knew I was reading something 'potentially' special. The key word here is potentially, I've read so many books that start off brilliantly and then fall by the wayside.

The book flowed at a strong pace and was really easy to read, but perhaps flowed a little too quickly for my liking, I'll mention that later. The sentences were short, crisp and each had a purpose to it, no waffling or irrelevant chatter, but like an arrow, straight and to the point. In some ways the writing style reminded me a little of the excellent Lee Child, and his Jack Reacher novels (if you haven’t checked those books out then you’re really missing out!) In terms of the storyline, there were two major twists; one I saw coming from a mile away, but the other did come as a surprise.

My one major discord with the book was the pacing of the book. The pace didn't flow like a gentle stream, but more like a tsunami on speed.Which is often a good thing. As readers, you don’t want to be reading a story that takes forever to go somewhere other than a few metres down the road. However, occasionally, the pace of a book can be too quick, and that can be a detriment to the characterisation. By moving the storyline so swiftly, readers can fail to connect with characters and not really grasp what's happening in terms of plot line, which is what occurred with me. I didn’t really empathise with Boy, or any of the other characters. So, while I enjoyed reading the book, I didn’t have that much of an invested interest in whether or not any of the characters perished.

The book is told through Boy, in first person narrative. Which was well chosen by the author as it helped get into Boy’s head and understand his thoughts. But, again due to the pace of the book, I couldn’t comprehend the full weight of what it was like for Boy growing up as an assassin. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of an emotional edge to Boy, basically see the mental damage of being an assassin. I mean the thought of having to kill people at such a young age would really mess up your head and unhinge you, but I didn't get that feeling from Boy. Whilst reading the book, he seemed calm, mentally fine and apart from a few flashbacks which went through his past and how it all began, I didn't see much mental scars.


I realise this post might be expressed as if I didn’t enjoy the book, and that couldn't be further from the truth. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I read it in four hours because I was so eager to finish it (in a good way). If there is a sequel - which looks likely from the ending - then I'd certainly buy it.

Give this book a read if you're a fan of Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne.

Out of 10 Stars:

7 Stars - Initially it was verging on an 8 but in the end I decided 7 was a more fairer reflection.


Buy it here:

Monday 5 August 2013

Rabbit In a Bottle

Next up on Fantasy Muse, is a book called Rabbit in a Bottle by Jim Patrick Guyer.

Front cover


Who am I? Is there a God? Do you love me?

Gerald Camden is a student of mediocre ability until he makes an unexpected recovery from a debilitating water skiing accident. Stripped of his memory, Gerald was suddenly the smart guy on campus. Everyone marveled at his new-found abilities.

Gerald is rejected by his mother who maintains that he is not her son. Gerald becomes enamored with Lori, the honor student, and builds a relationship with her, but feels out of place among her intellectual friends..
Eddy is a local delinquent, who has failed his senior year three times. He innately despises Gerald for his intellect but was intrigued by the change that had come about in him. He discovers that Gerald had been revived from brain death by Dr. Gauge, a noted genetic scientist.

This is the story of an amnesia victim who struggles to survive, falls in love, and rebuilds his life in small town America.

My Opinion

I was asked upon request by the author to consider his book for review. After reading all the glowing reviews posted on Amazon, I decided to take the plunge and agree read it.

The book can be labelled as sci-fi, but I use that term liberally. It’s more akin to fiction with science woven into it (OK, I know I just called it sci-fi in reverse!).

The blurb does a good job in describing what the book is about. Gerald, the main character, suffered an accident. He was brain dead and the plug was about to be pulled on him before he miraculously came back to life, but he’s forgotten everything about his past life, and to make his life even more complicated, he learns that he was subject to an experiment, which has now given him some unique talents.

As storyline goes, it was different to the books I normally read. The start of the book was written well and kept me intrigued. I was eager to find what special talents Gerald would unearth.

The format of the book was quirky. Each chapter had a series of mini/sub chapters contained within them. And, before each mini chapter began, there contained a short paragraph written in first person, basically, foreshadowing what was to come. After the first few chapters in, it soon lost its charm with me. It was difficult, when after a few pages you hit another sub-section, to create a flow in the book whilst reading it. If I had to describe it, it would be the equivalent of driving a fast car down the road, all you want to do is slam on the gas and feel that onrushing gust of wind against your face, but after every 10 yards you hit a traffic light.

My one major gripe about the book is that I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I tried to, and the closest I came, was Gerald’s teacher, but then that flew out of the window, when her principals shifted so abruptly.
And, talking about characters, I have to mention the main one, Gerald. A great book in my eyes, is when you form a deep bond with the protagonist. You urge and cheer them on during the good times and you feel their pain and sadness during the bad. Well, I didn’t particularly like Gerald, so it was hard to cheer him on. I didn’t agree with most of the choices he made in the book. He seemed almost cocky and arrogant, which perhaps, is what the author intended, or it could just be my own perception.

Some other thoughts:

I enjoyed the dialogue in the book. It was natural and didn’t sound awkward to my mind whilst reading it.

The book contained some poignant life lessons that I think teenagers would easily identify with. Not knowing what direction in life to take, and how easy it is to feel isolated and alone, are just some of the troubles we faced (& still do).


It started out fine and Jim Patrick Guyer is certainly a talented author - who is clever with his choice of words - but I just couldn’t relate to the characters and as the story progressed, my tentative hook slowly unhinged.

The book, however, is certainly doing something right, with amount of positive reviews it has gathered; so like I always say, this is just my opinion, and shouldn't form the basis of whether or not you should but the book. These are my thoughts to help you form yours.

Out of 10:

6 Stars 


Buy it here: