Archive for battle

LEGION OF THE DAMNED By William C. Dietz – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by stanleyriiks

Set in a far flung future where the Human Empire has colonised a number of planets, including the Legion’s adopted home planet of Algeron, and lives in a cosy and comfortable peace. Until the war-like Hudatha race obliterate an entire planet, the first in their deadly space-bound march towards Earth, intent on destroying every human being on their way.

Baldwin is a traitorous human guiding the enemy’s hand in his lust for vengeance; Booly is a Legionnaire injured on Algeron and left for dead but really a prisoner of war captured by the indigenous population; Chu Chien is a rich merchant intent on bringing his son home safe from one of the rim planets soon to be hit by the Hudatha’s deadly swathe; Scolari is the head of the Navy, hoping to persuade the Emporer to pull his troops back to defend Earth against invasion…

So Dietz provides various political intrigues and power-plays to go along with the more meaty action of the fighting and battles. Well, when I say more meaty, I mean more interesting, but Dietz spends a little too much time developing the machinations of not only the human powers but also those of the Hudathan, and the Naa (the natives of Algeron).

But the Legion and its history is much more in keeping with this book of battle, and really helps with backstory and characterisation (of which there is little). There is a lot going on and the lack of decent characters to grasp on to mean you can flounder around wondering who is what for the majority of the novel. Having characters called Booly and Baldwin doesn’t help, how about characters with names beginning with a different letter for a start.

If anything this book is a little too ambitious. Likely it is the set-up book for a possibly long-running series, and Deitz wanted to get as much in and introduce as many characters as possible in the first book. But ultimately there is too much in here, and it feels crammed in, and a little crammed down your throat, and it makes it a little hard to chew.

There are good bits, particularly the Legion’s history, and the story builds nicely but to a climax that takes just a couple of pages and feels a bit of a let-down.

It’s such a shame, I was so looking forward to this book, and it failed to enthral me, although it did marginally entertain it. I won’t be back for any more.

HUNT FOR VOLDORIUS By Andy Hoare – Reviewed

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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.

KING OF THORNS By Mark Lawrence – Reviewed

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Spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the first book in the trilogy (Prince of Thorns) then go and do it now and then come back and read this review. The first book is the series is a glorious, action thriller of a fantasy, brutal, inventive, original and compelling. Read it and come back, the review will still be here!

 

Jorg Ancrath, now King after killing his uncle is about to be attacked. The King of Arrow, a man who is prophesied to become emperor of the hundred kingdoms, is on his way with an army of thousands. Jorg isn’t the type to stay behind locked gates and hope for the best, even when outnumbered twenty to one there is only one thing (ok, may be two things) he can do, get married and attack.

With a similar structure to the first book the present takes place on Jorg’s wedding day as he plans to attack the King of Arrow and his advancing hordes, meanwhile there are flashbacks to four years past where we discover what brought Jorg to this deadly and final moment.

Whilst some of the flashbacks are exciting and integral to the story, others act to slow the fast pace of the present battle and towards the later stages of the book become a little irritating. I just wanted to get on with reading about the exciting fighting.

Lawrence writes with a style that lends itself to action, and this is a very slightly slower book than the first (a rip-roaring thunderball of action!), but still has a passion and imagination that goes well beyond your standard fantasy.

Absolutely amazing fantasy adventure, truly relentless, and at times exasperating, this second book in the trilogy moves the story on and will have you begging for more, exactly like the first book. I can’t wait to see how Jorg’s story ends, and if the past two books are any indication the third book in the trilogy is going to end with a massively exciting bang.

Can’t wait for the third installment, intelligent, brilliant fantasy.

DAY OF THE DAMNED By David Gunn – Reviewed

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I’m a huge fan of the Death’s Head trilogy, and particularly our reluctant hero, soldier and narrator Sven Tveskoeg, but despite Gunn’s unique and thrill-a-minute story telling, this is the weakest of the three novels.

For a start Sven is almost too utilitarian, the ultimate soldier is without his humanity (the Aux) for most of the book, and when they do turn up nothing much happens for them to be of any use. The plots of previous novels, Sven going from mission to mission, or sent on a huge suicide mission, here give way to political (high clan) intrigue. Sven feels out of his depth, and the reader awaits the action. Alas, it does not arrive. The damp squib of an ending is let down all the more because there is no fight, the “baddy” gives in, and the battle that should be hard-won is escaped.

Where’s the fighting, the action, the battles and near-death experiences? Where’s the edge of your seat/seat of your pants sequences that leave you dripping with sweat and physically exhausted? The first book int he series delivers and then some! It’s a full-on, over-the-top, action-fueled SF adventure! The third book… not so much. A couple of good action scenes, but poor plotting and a wasted opportunity of an ending just didn’t do it for me.

Not the best of a great set of action-packed SF thrillers. Sven deserves better, and I hope Gunn isn’t finished with his brilliantly-realised grumpy supersoldier.

THE FLIGHT OF THE EISENSTEIN By James Swallow – Reviewed

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How do you top the tremendous trilogy that started the epic tale of the Horus Heresy?

Erm, you don’t is the simple answer. This starts near the end of the last book, but from the perspective of Captain Garro and his team of Death Guard as they take to the Eisenstein and become aware of the traitorous activities of Horus and the lodges. But they only find out too late to do anything about it. Unable to help their massacred comrades on Isstvan III, Garro must leave the battle fleet and escape to warn the Emperor of the Warmaster’s treachery.

Ok, so some of this is old ground seen from a different perspective, in fact almost half the book is taken up with this rehash, and I found myself urging the book on faster, wanting to get to the real role the book plays in the series: the moment the treachery comes to light. And it does, but not quite in the way one might expect.

There are some great chaos-infected moments, but the grand battles of the first three books aren’t echoed here. This is much more understated and shows the struggle as Space Marines encounter Space Marines, and you begin to realise the scale of this vast and nasty conflict.

Not as exciting as the other books in the series, this is still a pivotal and necessary step to take on the way, but it feels a little workmanlike. Not because of Swallow’s writing, which is fine, but because of the plot, and the masses of information we need to be given that will lead to the next book. Like all the books in the Horus Heresy series this is a massive teaser, drawing you further into the entire epic tale, but this stepping-stone feels rather less important than the others. A shame, but we shall see what happens with the fifth book in the series: Fulgrim.

LEGEND By David Gemmell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This is the book that started Gemmell’s career. The epic battle to protect Dros Delnoch fortress, to stop the invading hordes of the Nadir. It’s a fantasy tale of Thermopylae. If the fortress is lost the entire Drenai empire will follow, but the warriors are outnumbered fifty to one and everyone knows it’s just a matter of time before the fortress falls. They know this even before the Nadir’s massive army arrives.

An ancient warrior, nearly sixty, and aching with fatigue, is called upon to assist. Druss takes his axe and his knowledge, prepared to die to help slow the mighty Nadir forces. He knows it is a lost cause, but he will do everything he can.

A group of monks, a warrior sect, head to the fortress to aid them knowing only death awaits.

A coward helps a woman being attacked in a forest, and suddenly finds himself part of the defending force.

A bandit is called upon, taking his band of thieves and cutthroats to help out.

The massive siege is masterfully portrayed. Gemmel’s detailing is spot on. The characters are brilliant and you can’t help but will them to win, despite the incredible odds.

His first book set off a career and Gemmel is still recognised as one of the masters of heroic fantasy. This book takes from myth and legend, but history and even has a Return of The Jedi moment for those of you reading carefully.

Action packed, cleverly plotted, and brimming with character and sparkling with genius, Legend is a book that’s difficult to put down and easy to enjoy. I think I will be seeking out more of Gemmel’s work and working my way through his back catalogue of Drenai novels.

GALAXY IN FLAMES By Ben Counter – Reviewed

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The final instalment in the first trilogy of the epic tale of the Horus Heresy, sees the unleashing of the betrayal that has been building over the two previous books, in a furious battle.

On the planet of Isstvan III the space marines are sent to bring a planet back under the control of the Imperium, but they discover, too late, that they are being sent into a trap that will leave all of them dead.

Horus, the Warmaster, and his brother primarchs and other followers, act brutally to destroy any hope of rebellion against their plotting to take over the Empire and to kill the Emperor.

Loken, Tavitz, and our other heroes land on Isstvan III prepared for battle, but the traitors unload viruses and fire to blanket the planet and destroy everyone.

A brutal brother against brother battle erupts for their very survival, and the survival of the empire.

Counter managed to give this epic account a personal focus, whilst still imbuing it with an action-packed energy we’ve come to love from the previous tales. The Horus Heresy is the jewel in the crown of the Black Library, and they are pouring the talent into it. The story is massive and epic, and one book can barely give you a sense of what is going on, but this is a cracking instalment, all action and packed with death.

Counter produces a novel of integrity, that takes it beyond the simple action battles of other 40K sagas. Massively entertaining, tension-filled and desperately sad. Watching the empire fall apart is a truly torturing experience.

Can’t wait to find out what happens next.