Star Wars: Shadow Games by Michael Reaves & Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff REVIEW

 In celebration of May the 4th

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, or as known to people everywhere as Star Wars Day, I thought I would post the review of a recent Star Wars book I finished. I had been longing to read a Sci-fi novel for awhile ironically.

I am far behind in the Star Wars expanded universe (I haven’t read a Star Wars book since Jr. High), so I found a book that takes place before Episode IV.

Shadow Games is about a smuggler named Dash Rendar. Right after he tries to beat Han Solo’s time on the Kessel Run, his engines get fried. To get his ship fixed, he goes to Mos Eisley on Tattooine. To make matters worse, he doesn’t have enough money to fix his ship.

He finds a pop singer that needs a bodyguard, and it’s a job that pays enough to fix his ship. Dash thinks it will be easy…Until someone tries to kill his boss.

To find out more, I would read the book.  🙂

The thing that makes this a pretty good Star Wars novel is the characters. All the characters are very smart, and have big egos. The dialogue inside is much like the dialogue you will find in an old school detective novel. The person I really fell in love with was one of the droids. Mainly because it was programmed to be sarcastic and make bad jokes.

The one problem I had was with some of the writing itself. A thing I like about other Star Wars novels and the movies (And Space Operas in general.) is that the tech is easy to understand and never really gets into the technical details of ships or machines. Whereas this novel goes into the nitty gritty of the tech, and never really let me imagine much.

But the twists and turns made me want to keep reading.

Overall I give the book 3 ½ stars out of 5! This novel is a great Sci-fi whodunit.  (Also, a very popular Star Wars character makes a cameo that you don’t want to miss!)

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The Pirate King by R.A Salvatore REVIEW

NOTE: “The Pirate King” is the second book in the Transitions Trilogy by R.A Salvatore. The series takes place in the Forgotten Realms world called Faerun, and is about the Dark Elf Ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. If you have no idea who that is, I would read “The Crystal Shard”, then read the book before this one called “The Orc King”. Or read all the prior Drizzt books beforehand.

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Tie in fiction is not always crap. I can name a lot of really good fiction written in franchises like HALO, Star Wars, Dragonlance, etc.  The setting of The Pirate King is in Faerun, the setting for the Pen & Paper RPG Forgotten Realms.  If you are a gamer, you may have encountered Faerun in the famous Forgotten Realms computer game Baldur’s Gate.

The Pirate King is written by R.A Salvatore, and has to do with one of his creations known as the Dark Elf Ranger Drizzt. He’s not evil by any means. He is just a species of elf that’s black instead of having fair skin. In the books, he fights racism constantly, and always proves his worth. In all of fantasy, Drizzt is a perfect way to attack racism and bigotry.

This review would be a very boring read, if I chose to explain everything that has happened in the 30+ years Salvatore has been writing books about Drizzt. So, I won’t spoil the plot. 🙂

The plot starts with a bang, and then gets boring in the middle. When I was in the middle I was thinking of giving the book a very low score. Since I’m a fan of Salvatore, I kept reading the book. My mind was changed when I neared the last act of the tale. All the stuff I thought was useless became important to how the story was wrapped up. If you like politics, good vs. evil, magic, and of course Pirates, read a book by Salvatore.

The characters were written very well. All of them had very clear motivations for how they behaved. I not only loved the heroes, I also loved the villains (Kind of hard not to like Pirates.)

The writing was classic Salvatore. The action was described very well. Once in awhile though I wish I had room to imagine more during the fight scenes, rather than being told every single little move in a sword fight.  My favorite thing about the book was the witty dialogue between characters, and the epic magic duels between wizards.

Overall, I give the book 4 stars out of 5! If you haven’t read a Salvatore book, sooner is better than later.

Available in all popular eBook formats and in print.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins REVIEW

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Young adult fiction lately has been flooded by books about Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, and all sorts of paranormal subjects. They have also invaded movies that are for young adults. The Hunger Games is here to challenge that clichéd trend.

The Hunger Games  is in the genre of Science Fiction and Post-Apoocalyptic Fantasy. (So think Mad Max meets Death Race 2000 meets 1984.) That being said, it’s not for children below the age of 13.

The setting is a future North America where the nation that was once the United States are divided into 12 Districts ruled by an authoritative regime, al a 1984. And every year, as punishment for the past Civil War between the government and rebels, each District sends two kids, 12 and up, to fight to the death in the arena.

When Katniss Everdeen’s sister is chosen to go to the arena, she volunteers to take her younger siblings place.

That is all I’m going to spoil. 🙂

The plot moves at a very brisk place in the beginning, lags a little in the middle, then moves quickly at the end. The book has many twists you’ll never see until they happen. If you love twists in books, The Hunger Games is perfect.

When reading the book, I was reminded a lot of Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Having to survive in the arena wore down the participants, many went insane after having to fight tooth and nail, and kill. And the people watching the games, like the tribe of children of Flies , cheering as people were killed. And like Ralph in Flies, Katniss  fights to remain civilized.

Now, before I go on a long literary discussion, let’s look at the writing. Collins wrote the book in 1st Person POV, so the only viewpoint in the story you get is Katniss’s. I think 1st Person kind of limited the story. I wanted to get into the other character’s heads, and learn more about what makes them tick.

As for the use of language, Colllins shines. Imaginary drool dripped down my chin at the way she described food. The technology was described simply, like reading Farenheit 451 and Dune. The action scenes were fast and hard-hitting, just as action should be.

Overall, this is a very good book. I give The Hunger Games 4 out of 5 stars!

Available for Kindle, and in print.

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.  

The Weight of Blood by David Dalglish REVIEW

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Well, here is another review of a David Dalglish book I read the other day. This book, “The Weight of Blood” is a part of his ongoing series about Half-Orcs. I know, at first glance, Half-Orcs sounds like a stupid idea to write about. In the Fantasy genre, writing about other races besides Men or Elves is highly frowned upon. Because after all, who wants to read a book about Orcs. Not many. After I read his book “Dance of Cloaks”, I wondered why he would write about Orcs in the first place.

But, the book gave me a big surprise when I started reading. It was actually excellent.

The two main characters, the half-orc/half-elf brothers Harruq and Qurrah Tun are living on the streets of Veldaran. (Yes, it’s in the same world as “Dance of Cloaks”.) Having to fight tooth and nail to survive, for the people of the city hate Orcs out of racial prejudice.

Things are even worse when the King says that all elves need to be kicked out, and never let back in. Thus, the two brothers are thrown out of the city, and they decide to leave to a town that accepts elves and men. The characters are great together, you actually can easily imagine that the brothers are actually brothers. They talk, and act like their a family, the older brother, Harruq, always looking out for the younger brother, no matter what. Even when his brother is practicing black magic, the brothers still stay together.

The relationship gets strained however, when Qurrah wants sacrifices to sate his thirst for power, Harruq even kills for his brother, a deed he hates doing, and doesn’t protest. Harruq knows deep down it’s wrong, and thinks about how he should stand up to his brother.

Things get even worse when a stranger in black contacts Qurrah, and tells him if he serves him, he will become like a god, and Qurrah doesn’t hesitate and accepts the offer. He also tells Harruq the same and Harruq accepts, not because he wanted the power, but rather because he loves his brother.

A perfect conflict, one that has been in stories since the beginning of time. And of course, at the end. Harruq is able to refuse evil, and choose good.

If you like a story well told, download or order this book now! It will appeal to fans of Dragonlance and the Drizzt novels.   

5 out of 5 stars!

Available for free on Nook, Kindle, and you can buy it in print. 

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish REVIEW

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Synopsis

Thren Felhorn, a notorious thief,a man feared by everyone, wants the perfect heir for his criminal empire. He tries to turn his son, Aaron, into a ruthless killer, one that doesn’t have feelings. Will Aaron stay on his predetermined path, or will he make his own way?

Review

This book is surprisingly very good. Another indie author who has taken me by surprise. The book is on par with such fantasy greats such as George R.R. Martin and Robin Hobb. This book is on my list for one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Lets now go to the details of why this book is good. Firstly: the plot. The plot has a whole lot of twists and turns you’ll never see coming. It doesn’t really follow the quest structure of most fantasies like Wheel of Time or Lord of the Rings ,but plays out a lot like The Godfather meets The Bourne Identity meets Assassin’s Apprentice. An odd combo, but it works beautifully.

Secondly: the characters. There’s a whole lot of dirt-bags in the book. What did you expect, a novel about thievery and criminal enterprise is going to have a lot of villains. I like the fact that the author made the villains just as human as the heroes. The heroes by the way, are great too, they talk, and act as if they are real people. They have a lot of tough choices to make.

Lastly: writing quality. Short, and sweet, doesn’t overuse words.

Verdict

Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars! The book is recommended for fans of action and fans of complex plots. Not recommended for people squeamish of blood, or innuendo. Fans of Game of Thrones would love this book.

Available on Nook, Kindle, and Paperback.

Imaro by Charles Saunders REVIEW

Premise

Imaro is a bastard child, his mother leaves him with her tribe , and he fights to gain acceptance. He leaves eventually, to find his place among different people. But supernatural forces will interfere.

Review

Tired of European style heroic fantasy? Look no further than Imaro by Charles Saunders. Instead of a European style setting, it takes place in an African style setting. Exciting right? Saunders was inspired by Africa, and the many African myths, and has used them to make an entirely new and exotic locale for his tales. It’ll change your mind about the Sword & Sorcery genre forever.

Imaro is not just a barbarian: he is a human, not another invincible Achilles we see so much of in fantasy nowadays.

Like all S&S stories, you won’t be surprised by blood , swordplay, and power mad sorcerers. And don’t forget femme fatales.

There are no lulls in the plot, it’ll keep you interested until the end. Recommended for fans of Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Homer, and Fritz Lieber.

I give Imaro 3 1/2  stars out of 5!