At The Queen’s Command by Michael Stackpole REVIEW

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I’m not much of a fan of historical novels that take place in the 1700’s , mainly because I have heard the story of what happened before and after the American Revolution plenty of times. There are only so many ways to present what happened.

But, what if an author made his own version of what happened. Say, by adding magic, changing the names of countries, and adding dragons? That is what Michael Stackpole (Yes, that Michael Stackpole.) has done with At The Queen’s Command.

The story begins in 1763. Captain Owen Strake of the Queen’s Wurmriders, is sent on a mission to survey the Mystrian (American) frontier. What begins as a simple exploratory mission, quickly becomes a quest to stop a madman from taking over the land.

The book is a little slow starting, but the witty banter between characters will keep you reading. Stackpole has a great gift for dialogue. The book really starts to get good at page 100. What starts out very political, quickly turns into a fast and furious adventure novel. Rather than the usual medieval weaponry in most fantasies, the weapons are accurate for the 1700’s. Muskets, Revolvers, Cannons, etc.

Magic is very present. Stackpole has created a great magic system, one that fits in well with the time period. It’s deeply woven into society like technology is nowadays. He also has made it so the magic effects the user in some way, and no one is an all-powerful invincible magus. He also depicts well on how radical the Church of Norisle, uh, I mean England acted in the 1700’s.

The writing style is a lot like a book from the 1700’s. The language is easy to understand, but he uses some words that were used back in the day.

Stackpole proves again that he is so much more than a writer of fan-fiction. I’m excited to read the next book!

Overall

I give the book 5 out of 5 stars! Recommended for fans of Naomi Novik and Chris Evans.

This book is available in all popular ebook formats, and in print.  

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Guest Blogger: Ty Johnston

Please welcome indie fantasy author Ty Johnston! This is one of his many stops on his Blog Book Tour for his latest novel Demon Chains. You can find out more about Ty and where he’s stopping next for his tour at his blog:  tyjohnston.blogspot.com . Enjoy! — Jake 

Today on my blog tour, I would like to do something a little different. Instead of talking about myself and my writing and my latest novel, I’d like to take a little space to talk about other writers of the fantastic. These four individuals have names you might not recognize, but hopefully you will some day because all of them are excellent writers, some of my modern favorites.

First, I’d like to mention Scott Fitzgerald Gray, who happens to be a member of the Monumental Works Group, a collective of writers working together and promoting one another. No, I’m not mentioning Scott here because I also am a member of Monumental Works Group. I list Scott’s name here because his writing has struck a chord with me stronger than any other fantasy writer of the last two decades, including that of my most recent favorite, Steven Erikson. Scott’s prose is some of the strongest I’ve witnessed in a long while from a fantasy writer. He knows how to build great characters and how to make them come alive. His plots are top notch. He is a better writer than myself, and yes, I’m jealous.

The second writer I’m bringing to your attention is Charles Allen Gramlich. Charles is a professor by day and a writer at night, an on weekends and holidays and vacations, etc. He writes in just about every genre you can think of, and he pens non-fiction as well. I’ve only read one of his novels, so far, Swords of Talera. This novel is the first in his Sword and Planet series known as The Talera Cycle. I am not the biggest fan of Sword and Planet literature. I have tried reading Edgar Rice Burroughs on numerous occasions, and he just can’t hold my attention. Charles might be changing all that for me. Upon reading his Swords of Talera, I felt transported to another world far different from our own. For the first time, I was actually excited about reading a Sword and Planet novel. He uses many of the tropes familiar to this sub-genre, but his writing raises them to the next level, making him a better writer than Burroughs, in my opinion.

Next up is Cindy Pon. Cindy is not only an author, but also an artist, so don’t forget to check out some of her artwork at her site. So far Cindy has two books released, Silver Phoenix and its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix. I know we’ll be seeing more from her in the future. What makes Cindy’s books so special are not just her quality writing, but also her unique take on young adult fantasy literature. Cindy’s fantasy novels are quite traditional in some ways, but they are different than anything else I’ve seen available on the bookshelves of my local bookstores. Her tales are set in a fantasy version of ancient China, and mix traditional fantasy storytelling with paranormal romance for the young adult market. I’ve been quite impressed by Cindy’s work, including her artwork.

Last but far from least is my buddy, Steve Goble. As of yet, Steve does not have a novel available for the reading public, but what he does have are numerous short stories either online or in print in one anthology or another. He is likely best known for his Sword and Sorcery tales featuring his Calthus character, and once you read the stories you will understand why. With all due respect to the many great Sword and Sorcery authors over the years, Steve is my favorite since Robert E. Howard himself. Steve’s Calthus tales pick up where Howard left off, and then some. Calthus stories feel like Sword and Sorcery stories, which unfortunately is a rarity, even from others who write in this sub-genre of the fantasy field. Oh, plenty try to write S&S tales, but none pull it off like Steve Goble. It almost makes me think he might be Howard reincarnated.

Okay, I’ve yapped enough about other fantasy writers I enjoy and respect. I hope you will take some time to get to know these writers, because I’m sure you will be happy you did.

 Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2012 is running from February 1st through February 29th. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and Ghosts of the Asylum, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords