Review: Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence
Reviews / May 9, 2018

I’m going to start this review with a little story of my own.  About six and a half/seven years ago I picked up a book called Prince of Thorns.  This book was different than anything I’d read before in fantasy terms.  I absolutely loved it and pretty much devoured the series in short order.  The main protagonist, Jorg, is not for everyone.  The Broken Empire series is awash with blood and Jorg, although he will grow on you if you give him a chance (imho), is somebody you don’t want to cross, not if you like breathing.  This was my first, but not last, foray into grimdark and I was absolutely sold.  Obviously I couldn’t wait to read the Red Queen’s War.  What a difference.  I expected more of the same, and I certainly got that in terms of good writing, but the story was so different, still bloody, still brimming with fantastic characters and Jalan was just a blast to read.  I seriously think The Wheel of Osheim is one of my favourite books ever.  Then Lawrence comes along with a magic/school for assassins story, his main protagonist a female.  So, colour me intrigued but maybe a little bit…

Review: A City Dreaming by Daniel Polanski
Reviews / October 11, 2016

A City Dreaming is such a strange and intriguing book, I admit that my expectations picking this up bear no relation whatsoever to the read itself and yet I found that I really enjoyed this nonetheless.  When I started reading my first thoughts were ‘what am I reading’ and yet just a few pages into the book  I found myself really keen to pick it back up.  It defies description in some respects and I think this will probably turn into a bunch of random thoughts but I’ll do my best to keep it coherent. The jacket for A City Dreaming talks about two queens poised on the brink of war.  A world with divinities, wolves and phantom subway lines.  Reading the description you will probably imagine this is urban fantasy and to be honest it is although it might take a little time for you to become accustomed to that fact when you first pick it up.  It reads like a collection of short stories and yet that’s not really the case.  Basically the story  covers (roughly) a twelve month period in the life of ‘M’.  The chapters are all self contained but the characters from certain stories crop…

Review: Twilight of the Dragons by Andy Remic
Reviews / September 21, 2016

I have to admit, I’m of two minds regarding Twilight of the Dragons. Yes, it’s a fun, foul-mouthed, frantic sequel to both The Dragon Engine and The White Towers, but its narrative quality is all over the place. Much of it reads like a first draft manuscript, awkward and juvenile in places, that somehow sneaked past the editor. Structurally, it feels like it’s one step removed from being polished as well, jumping between storylines, with random flashback chapters interspersed, and some definite pacing issues. It made for a frustrating read, which (unfortunately) took something away from the enjoyment. Having said all that, this is a bold, brash, bloody story in which Andy Remic returns to the world of grimdark fantasy. One story thread catches up with the survivors of the The Dragon Engine, following their war-weary, emotionally exhausted descent into the bowels of Wyrmblood. These are adventurers who suffered greatly in the last book – beatings, torture, and even rape – and it weighs heavily upon them. As depressing as it made those scenes, I admired Remic for not just shrugging off the pain and going all gung-ho with the heroics. The other story thread catches up with the survivors…

Review: Red Right Hand by Levi Black
Reviews / July 28, 2016

Red Right Hand is a book based in a world full of monsters.  A dark and frightening place that takes inspiration from the work of Lovecraft.  I must say that I didn’t love this book and this puzzles me to an extent.  Perhaps the fact that I haven’t read any Lovecraft didn’t help but for me it was a strange combination of brutal truths and flashbacks combined with gruesome horror.  I certainly wouldn’t try to dissuade anyone from reading as I’m sure Lovecraft fans will find a wealth of imagination here to capture their attention. The pacing is good.  We get off to an immediate start as we’re introduced to Charlie Tristan Moore as she returns home from a disastrous night out with her boyfriend to be confronted by three skinhounds (which are every bit as bad as they sound and seem to have designs on Charlie).  Charlie is rescued by an unlikely Man in Black (MiB), a strange character, foreboding, not totally trustworthy, with a ruined red right hand and a leather coat that seems to have a mind of it’s own.  I wouldn’t say that the MiB has any redeeming characters, in fact it feels a little like going…

Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
Reviews / December 25, 2015

R. Scott Bakker. Steven Erikson. Peter Watts. When you think of dark, epic, mind-bending genre fiction from north of the 49th parallel, these gentlemen are the undisputed masters. It may be uncharacteristically bold and presumptuous to demand that a new name be added to that list so soon in his career, but I’ll be damned if Michael R. Fletcher hasn’t earned it. Seriously, Beyond Redemption really is that good. If our world is defined by delusion, there can be no truth. If there is no truth, how can there be lies?   When I first snagged an ARC of this about six months ago, I was definitely intrigued . . . but hesitant. Building an epic fantasy around madness, faith, and delusion sounded very cool. I was optimistic, but I also had my doubts. We’re talking high-concept here, and I was worried that the narrative would suffer from the strain of trying to sustain the threads of madness. In fact, I’d almost talked myself out of taking that chance when, on a whim, I decided to give the first few chapters a cursory read. A few vulgar, violent, vehement exclamations of approval later, I was well-and-truly hooked. Beyond Redemption absolutely blew…