Book Review: ‘Night of Wolves’, by David Dalglish

Having been disappointed by David Dalglish in the past, with the first of his Half Orcs Series, I was hoping that Night of Wolves might be slightly better. Unfortunately, it was not. The story was different, and had potential, but it was hampered by poor character development and some weak writing.

The thing I found worst about this book was that the point of view from which the story was told jumped around a lot, which meant that I struggled to form any kind of emotional attachment to them. The only characters which seemed to have any kind of personality were the two paladins, Jerico and Darius but even then, only when it served the story.

As with The Weight of Blood, the story had the potential to be good, with the plot maintaining a suitable pace throughout, something which made the book readable.

I’ve now read two books by Davd Dalglish, from two separate series, and enjoyed neither. I’ll not be reading any more of them.

‘Night of Wolves’ by David Dalglish is the first in The Paladins Series.

Book Review: ‘Magic of Thieves’, by C. Greenwood

As I perhaps expected from a YA book, Magic of Thieves is very simply written, with not many long words. While this is not a problem necessarily, I found that it contributed in part to descriptions and exposition not being particularly vivid.

Alongside this, I found the narrative a little ‘clunky’, with sentence structuring feeling a little off to me. When combined with the lack of streamlining put into the dialogue, it makes the whole experience feel a little unnatural. Some of the sentences in the book also contain oxymorons, and the voice of certain characters seems a little changeable too.

In terms of storyline, I think that the whole plot is maybe a little ‘easy’ in spite of the fact that not much happens. Part of this is that the protagonist seems very trusting despite her harrowing past, and almost everyone she meets seems to be inherently good to a certain extent.

The combination of jarring time jumps, and stunted character development also meant that by the climax of the book, there had been no real sense of her developing caring or meaningful relationships with anyone. As such, this left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

In spite of these flaws, I thought it had all the basic ingredients of a good, old-fashioned fantasy story. Overall though, I felt it did not quite live up to its potential.

‘Magic of Thieves’ by C. Greenwood is the first in The Legends of the Dimmingwood Series.

Book Review: ‘The Thousand Names’, by Django Wexler

A new subgenre of fantasy for me, I have to say I enjoyed my first foray into ‘flintlock fantasy’ an enormous amount. Having never read anything of the subgenre, all I had to go on were the amazing reviews of this, and those of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy. I had no idea what to expect, and I am glad that the gamble paid off. The book was fast-paced, and I seemed to blow through it very quickly.

I’ve come to find –recently in particular- that I am a great fan of military fantasy, which I think The Thousand Names should certainly be classed as. The fact as well that it challenges the traditional ‘sword and shield’ fantasy trope, made the read a voyage of discovery for me.

I engaged with the plot quickly, enjoying the fact that ‘magic’ was considered mysterious by the protagonists and was therefore side-lined to a certain extent. While the twists were a little predictable in places (at the risk of spoilers, one of the characters not being what (s)he seemed), the ingenuity displayed by the protagonists in various of the tight spots they found themselves in was incredibly entertaining.

Overall I found the book very entertaining, in large part for its focus on the military and campaigning aspects. The way the sequel was set up in the last chapter makes me wonder whether or not I will enjoy it to the same extent. On the strength of The Thousand Names however, I am certainly willing to give it more than a chance.

‘The Thousand Names’ by Django Wexler is the first in The Shadow Campaigns.   

Book Review: ‘Emperor of Thorns’, by Mark Lawrence

As an aspiring author, I find reading Lawrence’s books depressing to a certain degree, because I know my skill with words will never be as great as his.

There are some amazing twists, which one might expect of it, being the third in a trilogy. I very much enjoyed the entire series, as I found the writing itself amazing, with very different and interesting characters. While Jorg must certainly come under the title of ‘anti-hero’, there is no sense that his actions are dark simply in an attempt to shock readers. The use of complementary story-lines is very useful as a character development device, and means that I felt like I got to know Jorg over the course of the series.

What I love most about The Broken Empire Trilogy is the originality of the setting. It blurs the lines between fantasy and sci-fi in my opinion, and is the first such effort I have read. I always find ‘what if’ settings interesting, but that of The Broken Empire is engaging and beautifully thought out.

The only nagging thought I have concerning such a device as complementary story-lines is that it perhaps covers a weak story-line, as it allows for a lot of writing with arguably not much happening. Even in the moments when I think this, I realise that alongside the entertainment derived from powerful characters and settings, it seems near-irrelevant. That said, when I sit back and consider the ending of the book, I am not at all dissatisfied by it. It is certainly epic enough in scale to be considered epic fantasy, something which I tend to look for in books.

Overall: read it. Read the whole series. The originality and imagination of the setting cannot be underestimated, and neither can the sheer darkness of the main character.

‘Emperor of Thorns’ by Mark Lawrence is the third in The Broken Empire Trilogy.

 

Maps! Everywhere, maps!

As I mentioned in a post the other day, I’ve started playing around with the map maker at inkarnate.com, using it to transfer my appalling hand-drawn maps into far more professional-looking electronic copies.

I’ve so far mapped out all of my continents to some degree, but only two have been finished to the point where I’m comfortable sharing them.

As mentioned in the previous post, the engine is only in alpha phase, so I’ve encountered a few glitches, particularly with the text (which will become apparent below).

The first two I’ve completed, unsurprisingly, are of The Toscene Expanse, where the events of The Shadow’s Herald take place, and Salis, where The War of the Ancients (working title) series takes place. You’ll need to click on the maps to see them in more detail.

The Toscene Expanse:

THE TOSCENE EXPANSE

Salis:

SALIS

I would welcome any thoughts or questions you might have about the two continents.

Book Review: ‘Kings of the North’, by Elizabeth Moon

After having read The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy in less than a week last summer, followed by a few days for the first in the series (Oath of Fealty), I struggled to get into this one, although in fairness I had gone back to uni (where I tend not to find enough time to read).

What I have found, having returned to the series is that it has moved more from the sword and sorcery of the original trilogy to more ‘epic’ fantasy, which in large part revolves around the inter-related politics of the nations of Tsaia, Lyonya and Pargun. While I tend to enjoy more complex epic fantasies incorporating large casts of distinct characters, my feelings about Kings of the North are distinctly mixed.

At no point did I feel that the book was a struggle to read, with the writing being as great as I’ve come to expect from Elizabeth Moon. Alongside this however, I’ve struggled to pin down what exactly makes me uncomfortable about the book. I feel that, to a certain extent, nothing of massive or lasting import seemed to happen, as many of the story-lines were tied up by the end of the book. While this has the advantage of leaving me satisfied with the book on its own, at the same time it has me wondering how the series will be stretched further without seeming tenuous.

That said, the book in and of itself is very good, with all the ingredients required to make a great epic fantasy book. As well as this, I massively enjoyed the chance to follow many of the characters I had grown to love in the earlier books, and look forward to starting the next in the series, Echoes of Betrayal.

‘Kings of the North’ by Elizabeth Moon is the second in the Paladin’s Legacy Series.