Review: By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings #1) ~ Jill Williamson

Darkness HidGiven the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan’s owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince–more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan’s head cause him to fear he’s going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison–only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.

3 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel from this Author, and the first in a trilogy which, if this book is anything to judge the others by is going to be an enjoyable series.

There are two main protagonists in this novel, and both are written masterfully and with pen that draws the reader to them and results in them caring deeply about these characters.  Their comparative lifestyles are woven together skilfully and this gives them a feeling of being more than one-dimensional character that can so often appear in a novel in this genre.  The care with which the main characters are written spans over any and all characters the reader encounters as they progress through the book, making it one that does not leave the reader wondering who a certain person and what their role in the scheme of things is.

Initially getting immersed into the story presented a challenge, as the world in which it is set is again totally different from any other books I’ve so far read  in this genre; it presents the reader with a whole new culture and time period, that once it becomes familiar will completely engulf you.

Unfortunately, the masterful storytelling and great character development was marred by the use of rather windy verbiage and a lack of use of simple verbs; in my opinion the Author did not need to go down this route to prove that they have a good command of the English language, and the overuse of descriptive language had a tendency to slow the novel down rather than allowing it to move at a steady and reliable pace.  I’m also hoping that when the next instalments of the trilogy are published the Author chooses to use a more adept proof-reader; there were some very noticeable errors throughout the book that really marred the end product.

I highly would recommend this book novel, or are looking for a different approach in this genre and, despite the errors I have pointed out I am looking forward to reading the remaining books in the series.


Review: Photographs: A Journey Through Space, Time, and More ~ Peter Lean

PhotographsWhat is the connection between an old photograph, a planet with three moons, four friends travelling back home from Cornwall, and the number eleven?

And what ties together a battle on the lunar surface two thousand years from now, a Russian time traveler, and Napoleon?

Photographs is a journey through space and time by which the reader has the opportunity to remember that real life and fiction are truly not that far apart.

5 Thumbs-UpThis novella is a compilation of short stories… or is it?  The answer to this question lies in the hands of the reader as they progress through the stories that cover topics as diverse as dreams, choices, existence and time travel.  This book covers all these topics and more, and the Author skilfully tackles any questions that they cause by challenging the reader to stretch their mind and look at them from an angle they may not have considered before.

As with all short stories that only cover 20-30 pages, there isn’t enough time in any of them to develop any of the characters to a great degree but this isn’t an issue in these stories, as the Author manages to breathe so much life in the few pages allocated to each that the reader is drawn to the characters and, in some cases is even made to feel something for them, in the short time they share with them.  This shows great writing skill and an ability to engage the reader on the part of the Author.

I know it is clichéd to say that to write a review on this book would be hard without giving away spoilers or including excerpts, but that is truly the case here; this collection of cleverly interlaced stories will have the reader questioning their perception of what is reality and what is fiction.  The Author deftly ties everything together in a way that makes the reader think.  This is definitely a unique book filled with unique stories, despite the confusion that the settings can sometimes cause as the reader is taken from one unfamiliar place to another.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi, time travel, and parallel universe read that is not too bogged down with minutiae.


Review: Empire State (Empire State #1) ~ Adam Christopher

Empire State
It was the last great science hero fight, but the energy blast ripped a hole in reality, and birthed the Empire State – a young, twisted parallel prohibition-era New York.

When the rift starts to close, both worlds are threatened, and both must fight for the right to exist.


3 Thumbs-Up

This is a debut novel for this Author, and despite what the cover may lead the reader to believe this book is about, once they start reading they will discover it is something more.  Unfortunately, despite this book having a lot going for it, it didn’t quite reach the spot with me.

The reason for its shortcomings for me, all lie with the characters; right from the beginning they seem to be lacking something.  The initial character we are introduced to is gone before the reader really has a chance to get to know him, he is replaced by the main protagonist, who is marginally more interesting, but not enough to make the reader connect with him or grab their attention fully.  Many of the characters that appear in the book are never written with any real depth and, even though this is explained about halfway through the book, the reader spends much of their time surrounded by shallow characters.  The characters have very little substance, not enough to carry a whole book, which is a shame in this particular novel.

Fortunately the setting of the book and the mystery contained in its pages were engrossing enough to keep me reading to the end.  The setting is a parallel universe and brings a very steampunk feel to the pseudo-New York 1930’s written there with robots, prohibition, super heroes, unseen enemies and robots.  This fictional universe is well written and the Author leaves it wide open to the reader’s imagination to explore and populate as they will.  The overall feeling that the reader will gain from the atmosphere created in the book may well remind them of a Philip K. Dick novel, but which one will depend on how they interpret this novel.

I would recommend this book to readers of the time travel and fantasy genres.