'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

Wednesday 29 January 2014

The Paladin Vampire

This is an urban fantasy novel titled 'The Paladin Vampire' and is written by Ian Oliver-Jones

Front Cover


Adulphus Du Brasi awakes in confusion, his memory is nebulous and he has no idea who, or what he is. Later, he starts to remember his past, the Vampire queen Valasca who turned him and his Templar missions are recalled. 

His hunger burns within like he has swallowed red hot coals, he feeds with frenzy at first but as the hunger subsides he becomes more selective. 

The Templar treasure he escaped the purge with aids his passage. He has a vast fortune in gold at his disposal. 

Love finds him again in the form of Catherine, a beautiful young detective that has been assigned to catch the vicious serial killer. They both seek a cure for his condition with disastrous consequences.

My Opinion

The book follows Andrew Brace (yes, it's short for Adulphus Du Brasi), a vampire - who was originally a Knights Templar - suddenly wakes up from a catatonic state. It then follows his story as he acclimatises to this modern era. There is also a parallel storyline involving another main character called Catherine. She's a police detective that's trying to find the culprit of a series of murders involving dead bodies with puncture wounds on their necks. Yes, you've guessed it, she's looking for a vampire, and more specifically Andrew.

The start of the book jumped straight into the action, and I got my hopes up thinking this was going to be a good book, but then my interest started to fade after a few chapters in. Main reason being is I didn't like where the story was going. Andrew is a knight templar, and becomes a vigilante; helping victims and bleeding dry criminals. Think of Angel from the TV spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you got it. It was fine the first few times, and I even cheered him on when he took down the bad guys, but it soon got repetitive and I got bored of it.

I also didn't like Andrew's preachy enthusiasm. I can't really fault the author for that; I understand that Andrew was a devout Templar before he turned, and that he's still follows his religion zealously, but at the same time I would have liked it toned down a bit. I don't know, maybe it's just me, as I've always been a little uncomfortable when authors write delve too much into religion. I read fantasy to get away from all that.

Another problem that I had with the book was Catherine. The chapters alternated at times to to her POV and while it hinted that she had some sort of psychic connection to Andrew, it was never really fleshed out and developed. Instead we got to read about her tedious police investigation. We all knew the inevitable was going to happen and that they would cross paths with each other, but that only happened around 3/4 of the way in.
And when it did happen I was tempted to drop the book there and then. The story verged on the ridiculous after they meet. From just first eye contact, they started ripping each others clothes off (not the ripping clothes off intending harm but the one that ends up in the bed). No words spoken at all, they just went at it. And once they've just had sex, they're declaring their eternal love for each other. And then they preceded to ask each others names.

I don't think I've ever read anything quite like that. I don't know if it was a case of the author getting bored of his story and wanting to hurry it up. 

It wasn't all terrible though. I enjoyed the author's writing. Ian Oliver-Jones prose was flowery and at times it felt like I was reading poetry. The way he conjured up words and painted them together was really impressive. Also his talent at describing scenes so vividly made it easy for me to follow in my mind, and I honestly can't say that for a lot of authors I've read. It's just a real shame that the story let him down. He's clearly got talent and I can easily imagine his future books becoming successful. Just not this one.


It was tough to finish this book and for me it's a case of forget and move on.

Out of 10 Stars:


Buy it here:

Monday 27 January 2014

Immortal Lies

The next review on Fantasy Muse is an urban fantasy novel called Immortal Lies (Tybalt Jones) by S.L.Gray.

Front Cover


"Being a vampire isn't all it's cracked up to be. Anyone who tells you otherwise is prowling for a snack. 
Tybalt Jones is not your typical creature of the night. He prefers Havana shirts to capes and his "sidekick" is a curvy faerie girl. Not a hunchback in sight. He's been out of the vampire "scene" for years, and he'd be happy to stay out for the rest of his unlife.
But vampires connected to Tybalt are disappearing from St. Sebastian's streets. To make matters worse, he's on a literal deadline to clean up the city.
With a little gypsy know-how, a dab of faerie luck and a crash course in using his unusual gifts, he might just survive to restore peace.  
For now.

My Opinion

I'm normally quite particular when it comes to urban fantasy novels, but the fact that it was a female author writting from a male's perspective caught my attention. Normally - at the chance of sounding prejudiced - when female authors write a paranormal type book, it always invariably involves a girl who has to fend off the interest of two studly supernatural men, while batting her eyelashes and deciding which one to pick. And I appreciate it that she didn't take the easy option.

Ok, let's get back to the review... 

The story follows Tybalt Jones, a vampire with a 'hero complex', who finds himself pushed into investigating a bizarre case of vampires suddenly disappearing. The common connection being that they're all linked to him. Along the way he finds out that the man responsible for the spate of kidnappings has a serious grudge against him. Tybalt is not alone in his endeavours and has help from his fae girlfriend, Violet, an old witch and her geeky nephew. 

My initial thought from just reading the first chapter was that this was a well written book. And so it proved throughout. The writing flowed smoothly, and never felt stilted or hesitant. The sentences were purposeful, clever and witty.

I did come across the odd typo, for e.g corner instead of coroner - I think it might have been a case of predictive text altering the meaning. My one tip for the author would be to have a quick read over, because, although they didn't obstruct the story in any way, they were easy to spot and mend. 

What I did like about this book was that despite it being the first instalment, the author didn't try and dump a whole lot of info on you. Instead it was given in small measurable doses. I don't know about you but I get tired of reading a biography every-time a new person is introduced or when scenes are described right down to the last brick and mortar.

Some more brief points...

  • Tybalt's being chased by a mysterious man, but we're not given any clue as to why that is until after the half way stage. I get that the author wants to stretch out the mystery, but it would have been nice to have some inkling into what Tybalt did to p*** him off so much. 

  • I liked the fact that Tybalt and Violet were already in a committed relationship before the start of the book. It's nice sometimes to skip all the melodrama of courting.

  • The cast of characters in the book were all interesting in some way. But I wasn't overtly fond of Tybalt, as he was a little too clean cut for me. Personally, I prefer my main hero to have more of an edge.

  • There wasn't as much action as I would have liked. Not to say there wasn't any at all, but the majority of those scenes arrived near the end. 


This is a well written book, that wouldn't look out of place in a bookstore. The author has a talent at composing sharp, clever sentences. And while this wasn't my favourite urban fantasy novel; it certainly wasn't the worst. 

I'll be keeping an eye out for any sequel's.

Out of 10 Stars:


Buy it here:

Wednesday 15 January 2014

The (sort of) Dark Mage

The (sort of) Dark Mage (Waldo Rabbit Series) by Nelson Chereta.

Front Cover


The story of a young man named Waldo who grows up in a world where monsters, the undead, and dark magic are a part of everyday life. He is forced to go on a journey to prove himself, and soon discovers that his beliefs don't fit into the wider world. 
This is a light fantasy that is heavy on the humor with some romance and action as well. It has mature themes and language and is aimed at an adult audience. 
It is filled with everything a fantasy reader would want; dark magic, betrayal, zombies, vampires, a journey of discovery, secret plots, beautiful big breasted women, and murderous flesh eating rabbits. 
Just kidding about the rabbits. 
I'm saving them for the sequel.

My Opinion

This book first caught my interest by the amount of glowing reviews it had on Amazon and as a result, I've had it on my wish-list for sometime now, but I've always wavered buying it - instead putting it off for another day. I'm not sure why I was subconsciously hesitant to buy it, perhaps it could have been due to the flippant title and how casual the blurb was. 

Well, during one boring evening, I finally decided to add it to my Kindle library, and I'm kicking myself now for not having read it sooner.

What a fantastic book it was!

The book is about Waldo, a young dark mage who finds himself being the odd-one-out in his family. The fact that he doesn't enjoy killing and doing other nefarious deeds that dark mages get up to and are renowned for, sets him apart from his family and his people. To rectify his reputation for being too soft and to be worthy of being heir to his prestigious family, he has to go out and do a quest. This is not like your typical quest that knights perform, which always invariably involves saving a damsel in distress and other noble deeds. No, this is a quest based on how much of an evil reputation he can garner. Waldo also has to accomplish three certain conditions, which have to be met before he is allowed to come back home.
The conditions were:
  1. Bind three great monsters,
  2. Defeat a knight,
  3. Bring back a dragon/dragon egg.

From the title and the book description, I was expecting a quirky and somewhat unusual book, and that is exactly what I got. Nelson Chereta has a great sense of humour which he etches into his story, and I must have had a permanent grin on my face throughout reading it. The book was almost like a parody to mock how evil wizards should behave and I can't remember reading another book that made me laugh as hard and often as this book did. However, saying that, I hope I haven't given you the impression that this book is trivial, with no real substance behind it. There is a storyline behind the humour, and it's one that I immensely enjoyed reading. 

The cast of characters in this book were all memorable and I have to admit my favourite character was not in fact Waldo, but Alice, a young succubi that had spent her whole life as a barmaid. She was a breath of fresh air through the mire of stereotypical heroines, and is definitely one of my favourite characters I've read recently. She was so sweet, naive and down-to-earth, but stood up for herself when it was needed. I loved the exchanges she had between herself and Waldo; it was during those times that I laughed the hardest.

As much I..

..loved the book, it wasn't perfect. There were some flaws I found which were:

  • There's a lot of information dumped on you at the early stages of the book. I understand that the author is trying to build the foundations of his book, which looks like the first of many, but it still left me feeling a bit inattentive towards those chucks of text. I realise he wanted to thoroughly introduce his world and characters, but I would have liked the information spread out a bit more evenly. 

  • I enjoyed the storyline, it was just that not a lot happened in the book. At the possibility of divulging too much here; Waldo left his home and visited a small town before going on to visit a couple more cities. That was it. His journey went from A to B to C, with a lot of travelling in between. I just felt that there wasn't as much action or character development from a book that was 495 pages long. It's clear to me that the author wants to draw the story out and that there's going to be quite a few books in the series. A belief that is backed up from a prophecy in the book that eludes to Waldo being away on his quest for roughly five years. To my estimate the first book spanned something like a month into his adventure, so there's definitely a lot more to read and you get the feeling that this only the tip of the ice berg.

  • The ending concluded kind of abruptly and I would have liked to have seen it finish with a bit more resolution.

  • This is a self published novel and whilst reading it, I did spot the occasional typo and there was one paragraph in which a character's name changed momentarily. It wasn't hugely annoying or glaring, and in no way detracted from the overall quality of the book.


This is a wonderfully entertaining book that pokes fun at itself. Nelson Chereta has a unique talent at writing witty dialogue and engaging characters. He also has that rare gift that manages to successfully infuse humour into the story, without cheapening it.

I can without doubt say that this is one of the funniest, cleverest fantasy books I've had the pleasure to read. I finished the book within one day and I was really sad to see it end. Now I'm tapping my fingers waiting for the sequel. 

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all fantasy fans, especially those of you who enjoy witty, dark humour.

Out of 10 Stars:

8 Stars

Buy it here:

Amazon US

*Update (6/4/14): The sequel will be out on Amazon - April 19th 2014 (can't wait!). 

Tuesday 7 January 2014

The Tattered Banner

Next book for review is The Tattered Banner by Duncan M.Hamilton.

Front Cover


Unique talent always attracts attention... 
In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams. 
Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim's Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief. 
Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.

My Opinion

After reading the blurb you're probably thinking this is your standard fantasy book in which the hero goes through the usual dramas of school, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong with this one, as there are the usual cliches, but not as expansive as you might think. 

The story is based on a young man called Soren. At the start of the book he's a homeless street urchin, who relies on stealing to live. Soren is quick, agile and has a natural affinity to sword fighting. His raw talent with a sword is spotted by an influential nobleman and sponsors him to go to a special academy, which trains young men to become capable swordsmen.

As main characters go, I liked Soren. He wasn't your typical hero in that he had indomitable sense of justice, and he wasn't an anti-hero either. He was just himself and made good and bad decisions. 

The story moved from arc to arc at a quick pace. Perhaps, a little too fast for my preference, as I felt that there wasn't enough depth in the storyline for me to digest. The author introduced some heavy topics into the book, but due to the blistering pace of the book it didn't really evoke any critical emotions in me and it felt like just words on a page.

The book is told throughout in Soren POV and whilst it did help in developing his character, it left the other characters sitting on the fence. The result was that the secondary characters felt... well, secondary and I felt indifferent to whether or not they lived.

One last positive...

I liked the fact that the author didn't spend the whole book on the monotonous day to day routines of school and the drama associated with it.

One last negative...

The beginning of the book felt a bit stilted. Some of the sentences were awkward to read and didn't flow well. However, as the book progressed, the writing improved remarkably and it was a clear case of the author growing in confidence.


An enjoyable book with a very likeable character in Soren. He's the type of main character that I like to read - pragmatic and intelligent.

Out of 10 Stars:

6 Stars


Buy it here: