Archive for andy remic

URBAN GOTHIC By Brian Keene – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2019 by stanleyriiks

Does this book represent horror? Probably not present day horror as the book is now nearly ten years old. It certainly feels of a time, although is that because it feels so familiar? There’s nothing in the book to date it, no trademarks or brands that are now defunct. No historic attitude or clothes. Cellphones, that most telling of recent items, are present.

So what are we looking at here? A haunted house story… Essentially. But one with a twisted sense of realism. The house is only haunted by hideously deformed human beings, cannibals, rabid and misshapen.

A group of teenagers enter the house, having been chased through a bad neighbourhood by a gang of not-so-ruthless “thugs”, little knowing the rumours and stories about it. Then they find themselves trapped inside, the prey of dangerous, mutated cannibals in a desperate struggle to survive.

Keene gives us familiar tropes and twists them, much in the same way Edward Lee does, so keeping a realism that is shocking and nasty, in the same way Ketchum managed with Off Season. The horror here is the brutality of humanity rather than actual monsters.

Back to my original question, does this book represent horror? To a certain extent, yes, it does. There isn’t anything new here. The entire problem with the genre is that it’s stuck with a single and simple premise, the evocation of an emotion: fear. Sure, it’s actually pretty difficult to achieve. And it’s the same things that make us scared, like haunted houses, crazy killers, and this book plays on those stereotypes. The failure of the book, as the failure with most horror novels, and the failure of the genre, is that in order for us to feel fear, to be scared, to be horrified, is that we need to feel.

Keene does a good job, this is by no means a bad horror novel. But it failed to make me feel. SF often does a similar job of not making me feel anything for the main characters, but SF is about ideas. If I’m not emotionally involved in the characters in an SF novel it doesn’t mean the book fails. For me, now, horror fails if I don’t feel. If the main characters are brutally tortured and killed and I don’t care, then they might as well not have been killed and I might as well not have bothered.

I’ve read far too many books in my forty odd years for everything to touch me. I’m jaded. I’m cynical. I don’t care about real people most of the time, why would I care about some words on a page. But that’s what good horror makes me do. It doesn’t have to be a whole novel, sometimes it’s a scene in a fantasy. The torture scene in an Andy Remic fantasy novel had me cringing for several pages, because I cared about the characters. Without that engagement horror is dead.

That is the main reason Stephen King is successful, he draws you into the story, gets you involved with the characters and then he hurts them, and by extension, he hurts you too.

For all his stereotype twisting and all his brutality (which I did enjoy), Keene failed to make me feel anything. This isn’t a bad book by any means, and like the genre itself, I feel I’ve grown out of it a little. Not by choice, I wish I jumped at the scary parts of films, I wish I loved every character I read about, but I don’t. The novelty has worn off.

May be horror is not my genre any more.

TWILIGHT OF THE DRAGONS By Andy Remic – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by stanleyriiks

Book two of the Blood Dragon Empire series sees our band of heroes, now freed from the torturous clutches of the dwarves, heading deeper into the mountain, following Lilith the witch as she divines their path to the ancient city of dragons, Wyrmblood, hunted by dwarves intent on their murder.

Above ground the freed dragons are on a rampage, attacking everyone and everything they can find. The Iron Wolves, another crack team of warriors from Vagandrak, from Remic’s previous books The Iron Wolves and The White Towers, find themselves on the receiving on Kranesh, the dragon queen’s, wrath. The axe-warrior is intent on giving as good as he gets and involves his crew in an epic battle on the ramparts of the walled city…

Anyway who hasn’t read at least the first book in this series should turn back now. Can you get away with not reading the first book? Sure you can, but it’s like watching a film by starting in the middle, and a football match from the second half.

To get the most out of this book I would also recommend the connected Iron Wolves books too, which will give you a nice back history of half the characters involved.

Having read a lot of fantasy I can pretty well predict where the author is going to go. I have a good idea of the plot, and how the characters will act. Not so with Remic. He manages to surprise me, a lot. What he is willing to do to his characters is… well, it’s quite horrible sometimes. And yet brilliant. His plots continue to surprise as well, just as I think this will be a nice Empire Strikes Back-type second book in a trilogy, adding depth and dimension to the story and moving it forward towards the inevitable conclusion, he throws in battles you expect him to save for the third book, he kills characters you expected to the trilogy’s heroes, and he blows your mind.

Remic surprises and delights in equal measure. He does something few writers seem to be able to, he makes you feel.

Remic is a fantasy genius. Twilight of the Dragons slides nicely into my Remic collection, and if you don’t have your own Remic collection you’re not reading the right fantasy.

THE GRIM COMPANY By Luke Scull – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2015 by stanleyriiks

Having recently enjoyed the delights of Mark Lawrence and Andy Remic’s action fantasies, I was looking forward to this. But this is not Mark Lawrence or Andy Remic. Upon starting to read this I was most disappointed.

It starts slowly….

Mages rule the city states, tussling for power. They killed the gods, dooming themselves to limited magical material. But the brutal ruler Salazar, having lost his navy to one of his rivals, ups the stakes, destroying the city of Shadowport in a massive tidal wave that wipes out everyone and everything.

Two warriors, hunted by their former tribesmen, find themselves part of a rebel band.

A young man, desperate to be the hero he knows he is destined to be, has a rude awakening when he is almost killed, and runs away from his friends and family to try to prove himself.

Mmmm… The slow start isn’t particularly helped by the lack of a good hero, I don’t think the author knows who he wants us to root for: the annoying twerp who thinks he’s a hero, or the grizzled old warrior who groans with every move. The characters in the book just aren’t compelling, or likeable.

The story does start to get going in the second half, the characters actually start to come into their own and grow, and the long awaited action begins to take place.

What could have been a really good action fantasy, feels mostly flat and unrewarding. Sure, the second half of the book really does pick up, and here you get to see Scull at his full potential. But I very nearly didn’t make it that far.

If you’re looking for action fantasy, and have read all the books of Lawrence and Remic then go for Polansky. When you have exhausted all of those and if you’re still desperate for some fantasy action give Scull a try.

Really not sure if I will bother with the second book in this series or not. Disappointed.

Among Thieves By Douglas Hulick – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Set in a fantasy world ruled with an immortal Emperor, Drothe is a spy, an intelligence gatherer for one of the largest criminal gangs in the city of Ildrecca. He is desperately trying to find a relic that was stolen on its way to him, and he is entrusted with finding out what is going on in Ten Ways, the worst of the districts of Ildrecca and his former home. But the Grey Princes (secret rulers of the gangs), and the gang warlords are starting to clash, and there’s about to be war in Ten Ways, and despite everything he knows or does Drothe is being dragged right into the middle of it…

Rapiers at the ready, this is a swashbuckling tale of daring do, with a nicely dark aspect of brutal fighting and murder. The world is well set up, the complicated intrigues of the Kin (as the criminals call themselves) manage to build towards an exciting climax that doesn’t let down. There’s plenty of action, enough of a plot to keep things interesting, some great characters, and the writer isn’t afraid to put our hero in danger or hurt him, and in turn us. Also, Drothe is not your traditional hero, and very little is black and white in this world, the complications making decisions very difficult, and only drawing us readers further in.

Early reservations that there wasn’t enough description of this world aside, I had a great time, absolutely enjoying the fighting, the lying, the battles, the cheating, the schemes and secrets, and the magic. The characters excel and the clever plotting keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what will happen next. This is an exciting world to explore.

Hulick has done a fine job with this book, and hopefully a sequel will follow shortly as I can’t wait to find out what happens next in a story rich with even more promise.

Morpheus Tales Supplement Out Now!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2014 by stanleyriiks

The latest issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement is out now! It’s got an exclusive interview with Dan Abnett (Horus Heresy and 40K Legend!) and Nik Vincent, loads of articles and columns from the usual crew (marvellous!), and a load of book and film reviews including some from me (which are fabulous, obviously!).

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/mt25reviews

HUNT FOR VOLDORIUS By Andy Hoare – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by stanleyriiks

This is one of the Space Marine’s battle novels, so you pretty much know what you can expect. Plenty of action, and you get that, in bucketloads. What the book fails to deliver is character-development and a decent plot.

Voldorius is a chaos space marine, leader of the infamous traitors the Alpha Legion, and sworn nemesis of Kor’sarro Khan of the White Scars Space marines. Basically, Kor’sarro hunts Voldorius and his legion to the enslaved planet of Quintus and attacks with the help of the mysterious Raven Guard Space Marines.

Ok, so not much story, cardboard characters, but plenty of action, loads of fighting and some nice touches, including the rebels, the hints of Voldorius’ power and the tension between the two space marine outfits.

The problem with the book lies within the limited premise of the series. What we want when picking up a battle novel is a lot of action. But action cannot be maintained throughout an entire novel, the reader would just become numb. The majority of 40K universe books are heavily action-led, but (the Horus Heresy novels at least) have a well-crafted plot behind the action and noticeable character development.

This book isn’t a failure, it’s entertaining enough for me not to write off the entire series, but Hoare needs to look at Dan Abnett, David Gunn and Andy Remic to see how truly brilliant action-heavy novels can contain good characterisation and plotting.

Good, but not quite good enough for a recommendation. Does what it says on the tin, but I was expecting a bit more.

Morpheus Tales 23 Supplement is OUT NOW!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Finally it’s here! Months in the making, even longer in the writing, but the review supplement is out now! Featuring author interviews, some amazing articles and columns, and a whole heap of great reviews (some written by yours truly!), it’s 44 pages of horror, sf, and fantasy non-fiction and it’s all for you, and it’s all free!

Go get yourself a copy:

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/23reviews

It’s great, it’s free, what more could you want?