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THE DESERT SPEAR By Peter V. Brett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2011 by stanleyriiks

The second book in this epic series is huge, weighting in at seven hundred and fifty pages. Set in a world ravaged by demons every night, where in the North the people hide and cower in their houses behind wards which keep the demons at bay, and in the south where they fight and trap the demons in a huge maze until sunlight returns and destroys them.

This time we follow the story of Jardir, the southern warrior who comes to rule the warring tribes of the south and bring them together as an empire. He then starts his invasion of the north.

We also get to follow the Painted Man of the first book, as he continues to grow his numbers of followers (whilst trying to bring the northern Dukes together to stop the invading hordes of the south) and his past comes back to haunt him, and Lesha as she develops her skills as a warder and gatherer and meets Jardir who falls in love with her.

The world has been waiting for the coming of the Deliver or Shar’Dama Ka for centuries, and not one but two appear. Both willing to kill the other, and a war with the demons  is inevitable. But will the north or the south be destroyed, and will it be before or after the demon war?

On such a vast scale, this book is a bit more polished than the first book. The movement between characters’ points of view is much less jarring, at least after the first two hundred pages of Jardir’s history. Brett has allowed himself the time and space to develop his characters, their history, their beliefs and their world to such an astoundingly accurate level but you can’t help but be swept away. The richness of this book is truly immense.

Awe inspiring in both its detail and its scale, with both its petty bedroom intrigues, vast battles to come, and clever twists, this is a excellent book. I hope it’s not a long wait for the third book in the series. Truly epic. Truly immersive. Truly original.

THE PAINTED MAN By Peter V. Brett – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2011 by stanleyriiks

I’ve been really getting into fast-paced, action packed SF recently, so it was a nice change to take on the more sedate pace of fantasy. Before I go any further I have to say I spent a great 544 pages with this book, this is the first book in a series that’s going to be absolutely epic. Almost the entire first book is an introduction, building up the three main characters of Arlan, Rojer, and Leesha as they grow from childhood to adulthood, dealing with their various separate dramas and are brought together (late in the book) by circumstance. You see the world they live in lives in fear of the dark. When the sun sets corelings (demons) come out of the earth and eat and kill humans, and have done for the past three hundred years. Only wards (ancient writing) learnt only by a precious few can be used to protect them, and only then if the wards are perfect. Any imperfection will be found by the demons.

The world in which the story is set is a tired, dangerous place, humans have mostly given up fighting, instead prepared to hide and live a small, simple life, without travel, without night, and with danger just outside their warded walls and doors. There’s so much to the world that Brett has created that it would take more space than we have here to describe it all, suffice to say, it is brilliantly realised, with a nicely tied-in religion, a wide range of characters, and purposeful travel throughout the known lands to give us a nice guide tour, with much opportunity for expansion.

The only problem is that most of the book feels like an introduction or prologue. We don’t get to meet the Painted Man, as such, of the title until near the end of the book. There’s so much information on the characters that they do stick with you, but at what cost? There’s some action, and the final battle is great, but it takes it’s time to get there.

This is a difficult book to review alone, as it’s obviously not meant to be read individually. This is most definitely the first part of a mammoth series, which will no doubt be spectacularly entertaining and brilliant, but without the next book it’s so difficult to tell. A very good first instalment in the series, but I find myself reserving judgement until more titles in the series are available, although I will definitely be ordering the second book in the series very soon. (The cliff-hanger ending is ridiculously exciting!)

Rumble Tumble By Joe R. Lansdale – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Hap Collins and his buddy Leonard are always getting themselves into some mischief. Rumble Tumble sees Hap and Leonard caught up in a whole hell of a mess, when Brett, Hap’s girlfriend, finds out her daughter is being used a as whore in a brothel in Oklahoma. They are sold this information by a red-haired midget called Red, and a huge muscle-bound moron named Wilbur.

When Hap ponders on this predicament, Leonard offers to help out, and the three set off towards Oklahoma to help free Brett’s daughter, encountering a whole slew of trouble on their way, including bikers, gangsters, preachers and whores.

Lansdale has a unique style that sets his East Texans apart from your normal crime fiction heroes. Hap and Leonard don’t want to be heroes, they get themselves into troublesome situations and they just want to get out with their lives, shooting people’s feet off, pistol-whipping midgets, and all sorts.

Picking up a Hap Collins book you know how it’s going to go, Hap and Leonard will argue like The Odd Couple, but they’ve always got each others’ back, and you know they’re going to get themselves into some trouble, whether intentionally or not. It’s the journey you take with these guys that makes the books, you know they’re not whiter than whiter, they cause much of the trouble themselves and have to break some rules to do what they gotta do, but you can’t help admiring both of them for sticking their necks out and trying to do the right thing. Especially when it’s not the easiest path to take.

Lansdale has produced another fine novel in this continuing series, and Hap and Leonard’s adventures are not like any other crime novel you will ever read. Stylish, funny, energetic and poignant, Lansdale continues produce the goods, and I for one will be following him whatever direction he decides to go in.