Archive for February, 2014

Dawn of swords in one of those books that has been following me around since the day it came out. It didn’t matter where I looked, there it was: in the library, in the bookstore, in the blogs I read, in the EBook’s advertisement. Believe me, it was everywhere, I am amazed I didn’t find it in the mirror reflection one morning after washing my face like it happens in those horror movies. Therefore, I decided that, before things got out of hand and psychotic books started murdering people, I should give it a try. As if it was a sign, suddenly I found a discount for said book in the Kindle shop. Truly, this was a terrifying experience.

DoS

Strong points: the setting, the development of the story.

Weak points: over explanation, character concept and development.

Dawn of Swords, written by David Dalglish and Robert J. Duperre, brings us the story of the young world of Dezren, a world where humans have existed for less than a century, having been created by the god brothers Karak and Asthur. Now, after a hundred years of peaceful existence, trouble is breeding in this utopia as the worshippers of both gods come closer and closer to a religious war.

The setting of the story is its strongest point. The authors bring us two completely different young societies which have evolved in completely opposite ways: one of them being an industrial kingdom with an absent god where religion is losing its importance and the other built around an ever present god without knowing poverty or greed. Both nations are masterfully built and evolve reacting to the events of the world that surrounds them. We are taken through crisis and golden ages, showing us a complex construction that will keep the reader turning pages.

The story itself is well developed, filled with climatic events and twits which, even if sometimes they are predictable, kept me reading page after page until the end. The different points of view manage to show us a complete picture of the conflict in both sides. The first families, which are four immortal pairs and their children who have been created by the gods to watch over humanity, are the main characters of most of the storylines and the differences on how they see the world make for a variable and interesting reading. The different events don’t feel forced by the author, who allows the story to unfold in a fluid manner which entraps the reader. The final twist of the story can only be compared to that of King of Thorns; the authors fooled me during the entire novel, making me think it would be predictable to then change everything in the last minute, leaving me unable to put the book down until I finished.

If you have read other reviews I have written you will know how irritating I find over explanation, and that is something you find a lot in this book. The authors seem to have the need of explaining everything instead of letting readers figure things out by themselves. Subtlety is noticeably absent as you read every tiny detail about the character as soon as you meet them. There is not mystery and sometimes that slows down the Reading.

The characters, sadly, are somehow a disappointment. Their concept is original and creates expectations which most of them don’t live up to. Some of these characters lack depth and embody clichés or simple qualities or failures, being unable to step outside their roles and surprise us, while others evolve in weird ways which don’t make sense; one example of this last group is Clotis Crestwell, who most of the book is the personification of being a badass but suddenly in the last pages becomes, with no apparent reason, a cowardly idiot who can’t even hide evil smiles when his plans work (and this without taking into account that it is stated at the beginning that the man has perfect control over his facial muscles). Some characters, such as Soleh, the lord Commander, Jacob or Patrick lived up to the expectations they produced in me at the beginning, but mostly character’s development is a huge letdown.

Despite some faults I enjoyed Dawn of Swords and can’t wait for wrath of lions, which shall be the second instalment of this trilogy, coming out on April. The book is far from perfect, true, but if you are a lover of the fantasy genre and like to spice it up with conspiracy and political fantasy like myself, then I wholeheartedly recommend it.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

Am I the only one who gets a deep feeling of enjoyment whenever I pick up a debut novel? I feel as if each one of those was a whole new world (which sometimes involves flying carpets, yes), like it was a pathway by which a brand new author brings something new to the genre through his or her point of view. But there something I enjoy more than discovering a new author and it is to read the debut work shortly after it gets published, before the reviews and the subsequent books that follow the success of the first one. Echoes has been one of those novels that by luck has fallen into my hands a couple of weeks after its release and I must admit that I have enjoy the book from the beginning to the very end.

Echoes

Strong Points: Characters and their development, the plot, the writing style.

Weak Points: Some punctual moments of the story feel somehow superficial.

Echoes is a novel written by Therin Knite which tells us the story of Adem Ademend, a 23 years old prodigy who solves crimes for a living in a futuristic society where countries don’t longer exist. Adem has become the best criminal investigator in the police force thanks to an uncanny skill to rebuild the crime’s scenes and figure out the identity and motives of the killer almost instantly, but a new murder has occurred in town and Adem’s gift is not proving useful this time for all his senses are saying that the victim has been killed by a dragon.

Undoubtedly the characters are the strongest point of the novel, especially Adem. From the very beginning the author manages to create a character that entraps us and wins us over due to his sassy sense of humor, his well-deserved arrogance and his need to find logic in everything he sees around him; Therin Knite has masterfully written a psychologically scarred character who at the same time is capable of maintaining a light tone throughout the novel. Adem is also surrounded by a strong cast of secondary characters who fulfill their own unique function inside the story and who have been created to the utmost detail, showing each one a unique personality that entraps the reader. All the characters, from the hateful socialite Regina Williams to the rough SWAT veteran Briggs, manage to trigger a reaction on the reader, making sure you won’t be indifferent to any of them by the time you turn the last page over.

Aden’s development is even paced and it doesn’t feel forced at any point. It answers to the events of the novel, changing through the story and being affected by the world that surrounds him in a plausible and believable. It is enjoyable to find a development so well written, both in Adem and, of course, in his secondary counterparts, especially the development of Dynara Chamberlain, who the author manages to evolve without making her loose the mystery that makes the character so alluring in our eyes.

The plot will entrap you from the very beginning and will keep you reading until the moment you finish the novel. While the book reminds us to some already well-established series such as The Twenty Palaces Society or The Dresden Files it stills offering something new to the genre that makes this novel something exotic. The mystery that surrounds the crime, which will make us suspicious of every character we meet, is alluring enough for the novel and the inclusion of the Echoes don’t feel out of place and are explained through science, making sense by the rules we have been given by the author about the world of the novel.

Therin Knite shows an elegant writing style which adds up as a quality to the novel. The author doesn’t fall into the irritating habit of explaining everything as soon as it happens, preferring instead to unravel it step by step, helping this way to create a mysterious atmosphere through the novel. Her way of giving information to the reader helps to underline its importance, such as the moment when we discover that Aden’s mother was murdered when he was six. Ms Knite could have told us that from the very beginning, but instead she waits to the right moment, once we have gotten to know her main character and using a digital picture’s frame to approach to the right moment. This example of a built-up, which happens more times through the novel, is an impressive example of timing which makes Echoes an enjoyable experience.

The only downside of this otherwise great book is that sometimes the characters’ reactions or the lack of them when it comes to some events or words of other characters take away some of the depths that they show through the rest of the novel. For example, there is a chapter in the book where Dynara criticizes Adem for trying to figure out his mother’s murder through logic and data instead of going out there and finding the murderer by himself, when that happens we are not given a point of view of the characters, we don’t know how he feels and he acts as if Dynara never mentions his mother, but her murder is what drives the character through the story.

Echoes has been a delightful reading from the very beginning to the last page, it is easy to read, well-built and interesting. I shall await Epitaph and any other book that the author writes in the future with great expectation. I raise my glass for a long and fruitful career, Ms. Knite, may you give us many good novels.

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

From time to time it happens that I find in the bookstore a novel which I have never heard of but that at the same time makes me incredibly curious. Sometimes those books turn to be a delightful surprise, such as Empress. Other times, though, they become bitter disappointments. Well, this is the risk one takes when he lives his life to the limit (at least where books are concerned)

aam

Strong points: one of the main characters is a talking, one-eyed, cynical monkey that fights against ninjas Nazis using two oversized Colts; the initial setting of the novel.

Weak points: it all becomes an over-dramatized cliché, developing of both characters and story, really predictable and without surprises.

Ack Ack Macaque is a novel written by Gareth L. Powell which tells us the story of three unlikely heroes who find themselves on the middle of a conspiracy against the Commonwealth’s royal family. A journalist who is recovering from a terrible accident that has left her unable to read or write, the heir to the throne and a talking monkey with a knack for mischief and violence must join forces in order to stop the cult of the undying from fulfilling their plans.

Gareth L. Powell brings us an original setting that manages to entrap the reader for the first quarter of the book. The author has designed a complex society with its own rules, rewriting the history of Europe to create this new world in which France and England have joined under the British throne in order to create the Commonwealth, a powerful political block. Technology has evolved differently with airships called Skyliners replacing airplanes as the main mean for air transportation, being each one of this transports considered an independent nation. Humans also have been planted a machine which connects to the brain and produces a backup copy of the host so he or she can say their farewells in the event of sudden death. In short, the amazing society has been created to the utmost detail, including its citizens’ behaviors making it a believable experience which is undoubtedly the strongest part of the story.

Sadly, after the first chapters we witness the Sleigh’s Effect: it starts going downhill and can’t be stopped. The whole story becomes a sequence of clichés badly pasted together, an overdramatized chain of events that makes less and less sense the further you read into it. Some scenes seen copied from Hollywood’s basic scenes and are scattered across the book leaving the reader confuse about what are they doing there in the same place, such as the scene in which Julie talks to her father or any short of romantic interaction between her and the prince, which feels superficial and unrealistic, not for the nature of the romance itself but because of how it is approached and the dialogue used.

The story’s development feels forced and sometimes even improvised by the author on the spot, some example of these moments are the identity of the saboteur of the skyliner or the meeting with K8. There are even some sequences that don’t make sense by the rules we have been given by the author, like Vic’s liberation, which seems just a way to advance the plot whatever it takes. Some characters or events are forgotten during the books, and others, such as the commodore’s sudden death one chapter away from the ending (which is never explained how it comes to past, it’s just a radio message saying “oh, by the way, he is dead”) are just means to reach the predictable ending of the novel. As said before, by the end of the book you are left with the feeling you have been witness to a collage of raw and disorganized ideas that may have given an amazing result if only they had been neatly ordered.

The three main characters are original in their design and quite promising when you start reading the book, being both original and fresh. When it comes to their development, though, they may disappoint the reader. In some cases , such as the Monkey’s, this development is non-existent, being a completely linear character with some insecurities from time to time which he soon forgets and have not weight whatsoever on the story . Victoria’s and Merovech’s development is irregular, sometimes even chaotic. They don’t seem to follow a plan. For example, at the beginning Victoria seems comfortable with her implants, but suddenly half way through the book suddenly she is worrying that it makes her less human. The main events’ effects on these characters wear off soon, leaving no mark in their personality
Also, the author falls in the (what I personally find) irritating habit of explaining everything several times, such as the plans of the antagonists, which are described five or six times throughout the novel. As a result of this over-explanation the reader has all the information from the very beginning, which makes the book predictable to say the least and, sometimes, dense.

Getting published is hard enough nowadays, so I myself like to read a book always taking into account the fact that the author has been able to get someone to publish it. I sincerely believe that Mr. Powell is not a bad author, he has got some really interesting ideas and his imagination runs wild through the pages, but the book has been a slow read which from time to time I was tempted to abandon. Probably the writers I have been reading lately have spoilt me with their good work, or maybe I am too demanding as a reader but Ack Ack Macaque was a disappointment.

FINAL SCORE: 3/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

Ps: If you have any Fantasy or Science Fiction book recommendation, feel free to write it down on the comments. I am always open to new books and appreciate any titles you send.