Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
Flintlock fantasy is an interesting blend of settings. The use of firearms as a sort of technological off-set to sorcery makes all kinds of sense to me and the idea of there being an equalizer between sorcerer and normal people is intriguing. Promise of Blood is a truly energetic first installment in the POWDER MAGE series by Brian McClellan and it starts off with a bang, no pun intended.
Tamas, a powder mage, is the Field Marshall to Manhouch, the King of Adro. The skill of being able to draw energy and power from ingesting gunpowder makes Tamas a lethal force to be reckoned with. Add to that a strong will and a history of successful leadership in the Army and Tamas is exactly the man any King would rely on to keep his Kingdom safe. But for the King of Adro, this trust has backfired because Tamas has led his forces in the complete overthrow of his Kingdom. Now a great purge is ... Read More
John HuletOn FanLit’s staff since June 2007
JOHN HULET is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. He began reading fantasy in the 4th grade when his reading teacher ran out of things to keep him occupied and suggested he try The Chronicles of Prydain. From such humble beginnings are addictions born.
John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. He enjoys books that challenge the mind and ensnare the heart. An interesting story is not enough to make up for shallow characters. Gimli Gloinson, Flint Fireforge, Tasselhoff Burrfoot, Prince Kheldar(Silk) and the totally debauched Dakar the Mad Prophet are all brilliant examples of the combination of humor, loyalty and courage that makes characters live. John particularly loves epic fantasy’s use of the concept of honor which is often considered outmoded and naïve by modern society. He loves to escape into a world where good people do good things for the right reasons and believe that duty can truly be its own reward.
John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of.
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Slipping back into the world of Mercy Thompson comes so easily for me. I don’t struggle with a huge readjustment because everything feels so familiar and Patricia Briggs has such an easy style to enjoy. Tragically, this at times means that I am not as engrossed in the story as I expect to be, because it feels much like more of the same thing over again.
Frost Burned is the seventh novel in the MERCY THOMPSON series. Mercy has gone through a lot in past editions, so when she is caught up in a relatively mundane car accident I almost had to chuckle because it’s just her luck. The fact that she and her stepdaughter are not seriously injured in the crash is about par for the course, but when she starts to make calls back to her husband and his werewolf pack, things begin to fall apart.
In many ways, the continued evolution of this series, reflected in the atte... Read More
King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
When I find myself laughing on a regular basis while reading a book that is usually a really good sign that I am enjoying it! King of Thorns, the follow up to Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, had me laughing — a lot! King of Thorns is not a fun and games fantasy romp by any means, but the humor just made a good book even better.
Honorious Jorg Ancraft is tired of being manipulated and told what he can and can’t do. In his world there are a number of shadowy powerful competitors for control who are manipulating events and people through magic and other unsavory means. They are willing to do some terrible things to achieve their ends. Jorg’s family has been slaughtered, his friends have been hurt, and his life has been threatened repeatedly. This has given him boundless motivation to control his fate, no matter the price.
Mark Lawrence sticks primar... Read More
Adiamante by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Suppose that the world had gone through an apocalypse based on a conflict between two groups of super-technologically-advanced people with fundamentally different beliefs on how technology should be applied. One group wanted the logic of technology to replace human thought, and the other wanted technology to merely enhance human perception. Could this difference provide the footing for outright war?
Ecktor is a Demi, a human who has been enhanced with physical and mental abilities hard-coded into his DNA. His wife has died; her memories are everywhere and permeate the very home he lives in. Ecktor’s life goes on with the mundane tasks of exercise, cooking and the work that keeps his credit-balance at a reasonable level. His grief would be overwhelming, however, except for the appearance of a fleet of high-technology warships inbound to earth. A leader is required to manage the pending contact with a group of hu... Read More
Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole
It’s amazing how a main character can spoil a book. Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier is the second book in the SHADOW OPS series by Myke Cole. I didn’t like the first book, Control Point, very well because I loathed Oscar Britton, the main character. He offended my pride as a soldier. Yet I decided to try the second book and this time I have to give Myke Cole some real credit for giving me a reason not to hate his SHADOW OPS series.... his name is Alan Bookbinder.
Back in a 21st Century world that has experienced the return of magic, the US Army continues to run pretty much like it always has. There are operators and paper pushers and seldom is a Soldier good at both. COL Alan Bookbinder is a first rate, hard core Excel spreadsheet Ranger! For those of you who don’t speak Army, that’s basically saying ... Read More
Blood Eye by Giles Kristian
[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]
Depending on the period being portrayed, historical fiction novels are often too graphic and too depressing for me to enjoy. The Viking era is a popular one for authors, and, until Blood Eye, I have always been unable to get into books set in that period. The difference is that Giles Kristian seems to understand that a story can be more about the characters and less about the fighting without losing the flavor of the era.
Osric is a teenage orphan living in a small English village that is attacked by Norse raiders. The exact how of Osric’s orphanage is something of a mystery, and he has no memories from before he was found by ... Read More
Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
THE IMAGER PORTFOLIO has covered two eras and two separate characters and tied them together with a theme of great power and great responsibility. L.E. Modesitt Jr. has taken the time to show the evolution of magic (imaging) in a low-tech world and has given us some pretty amazing world-building. The challenge for readers, however, is that it has been at times dreadfully boring, endlessly repetitive and so heavy-handed in its statements about the social conditions and the inherent prejudices that exist in that world that even the most stalwart fan gets… tired.
Imager’s Battalion covers the war between Telaryn, the more moderate, socially progressive nation, and Bovaria, the more conservative, aggressive and socially repressive nation. Quaeryt, recently recovered from the typical almost deadly over-exertion of a Modesitt hero, is called back to lead his formation of Ima... Read More
Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin
There are some crimes that are so heinous that a person’s reaction to them is almost chemical, not logical. When Blaine McFadden is confronted by the sight of his beloved younger sister after she has been sexually assaulted, he loses control and in short order kills the man responsible. In that act, no matter how justified, Blaine seals his fate and is exiled to a distant, frozen penal colony to pay for having taken another man’s life.
Ice Forged is Gail Z. Martin’s initial entry in a new series called THE ASCENDANT KINGDOMS SAGA. In a world that contains both magic and technology, Blaine becomes a leader. He’s the kind of guy who sees what needs to be done and is willing to just step and do it.
The penal colony of Velant tests and stresses the people who are sent there. The weather is horrible, the living conditions are rough and the guards and administrator of t... Read More
The Ramal Extraction by Steve Perry
Steve Perry’s new series CUTTER’S WARS is about a high tech mercenary team in a relatively near future, the 24th Century. In The Ramal Extraction, Perry begins the series by sending the team on a special operation to save a princess from abduction and save a world from war. They’ll have to use all of their combined wits and varied skills to succeed.
The mercenary team Captained by Colonel “Rags” Cutter, a retired Officer of the Galactic Union Army, is, in essence, a group of misfits. Each of the human and alien mercenaries on the team is expert in a certain essential field, but none of them has been able to fit in with traditional military formations. Though each is a genius in his or her area of expertise, being forced to conform to accepted norms is simply too much for some of them. Each is an interesting character, but there’s an overwhelming feeling of being too a... Read More
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
As a fan of Joe Abercrombie’s other books, such as The Heroes, Red Country was a must-read for me. Even though I had no idea what Red Country was about, or how it might be related to his previous stories, it didn’t really matter because I was certain that Joe Abercrombie would entertain me.
Red Country feels almost like a Western in the way that the towns are laid out — there’s a quasi general store and a the local saloon, for example — and I was starting to wonder if Abercrombie was breaking away from his usual setting. But the conditions, as in all of Abercrombie’s other stories, are pretty rough, and so very realistic. Red Country has a good setting for the type of hard story that Abercrombie writes.
Shy Sou... Read More
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Three Parts Dead is a wonderfully inventive story. Max Gladstone blends a plethora of ideas, ranging from vampires to magic to steampunk technology and adds interesting characters and a plot that is predictable but still enjoyable. The result is memorable.
Tara is a recently expelled student in the art of the Craft. A Craftsman or Craftswoman is the equivalent of a magician or sorcerer, someone who has learned how to use the energies of the world to do things that would otherwise be impossible. Tara’s fall from the Hidden Schools — think of a floating university for sorcerers — was both literal and logical: she had to fight her way out of the school before being physically dropped from its heights. Tara’s story is central to the book as she goes from expelled student to local healer to temporary employee for one of the large firms that traffic in ... Read More
Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
As a fan of the LOST FLEET series by Jack Campbell, I was intrigued by a book written from the perspective of the “enemy.” With the Alliance victory over the Syndicate and the series moving on to another conflict, it’s a great time to start looking at what is going on with the Syndicate worlds. Thus, Tarnished Knight is the opening volume of LOST STARS, a spin-off series which runs parallel to events in the LOST FLEET series. Reading LOST FLEET first is probably a good idea because Tarnished Knight assumes you’re familiar with that background information.
Artur Drakon is a Syndicate CEO: an emotionless, driven, scheming, selfish rising star in the Syndicate firmament. People are useful commodities to him as they enhance his career and personal satisfaction. CEO Drako... Read More
Clean by Alex Hughes
Clean is the first installment in the MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series by Alex Hughes. It’s sort of a mix of police procedural, mystery, urban fantasy and science fiction.
Set sometime in a distance future, humans have become wary of artificial intelligence and the telepathic abilities of the people who saved humanity from the sentient computers during an event now known as the Tech Wars. Some people still have internet interfaces implanted in their brains, but most of their fellow humans regard them with disdain and are ready to revert to pre-internet forms of technology.
Clean takes us into the day to day life of a telepath who’s just trying to get by. Adam works for the DeKalb County Police Department in the Atlanta area where he assists the Homicide Department with their investigation... Read More
Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist’s Magician: Apprentice was one of my favorite books in the mid-1980’s — I read it over and over. If I have read this book less than 20 times I would be completely amazed. The wonderful part of re-reading it recently and having 20 years plus of fantasy literature experience is that I can appreciate something sublime.
Pug and Tomas are best friends raised practically as brothers at the Keep of the Duchy of Crydee. Tomas’ parents are in charge of the kitchens and the boys have lived a fairly happy childhood. Pug is an orphan who has lived at the grace of Duke Borric. It’s a wonderfully typical beginning for a fantasy novel.
During the course of the story, Pug is selected as the Apprentice to the court Magician, Kulgan and has a lot of interesting experiences as he learns to harness his gifts. Tomas, the stronger and more ch... Read More
Chocolate Lenin by Graham Diamond
The Russian Federation is planning to celebrate its 25th Anniversary Jubilee, and Vlad Petrovsky is at the center of the public relations effort. It’s a plum assignment; long hours away from his family and dealing with crisis after crisis will all be worth it to Vlad if he succeeds. In the midst of this, he is pulled away from his assignment and tasked by the Prime Minister himself to support a vital, secret mission that threatens the future of all Russia.
At the center of Chocolate Lenin is a race against time to prevent a scientifically reproduced version of Vladimir Lenin from instigating another revolution. A special team of scientists, police, secret agents and the likable Vlad has been cobbled together to counteract a brilliant scientist’s radical plot to use Lenin to bring down Russia. The elements of the pursuit read like a thriller as the team works to track ... Read More