Archive for cliff-hanger

THE DAYLIGHT WAR By Peter V. Brett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I’ve been busy the past few weeks working my way through this massive book, so apologies for the delay in posting.

The third volume in The Painted Man series, I thought this would end the trilogy. In some ways I’m sad it’s not, I was looking forward to finding out what would happen, but in some ways I’m glad this epic and brilliant story continues.

For those of you who have not read the first two books in the series, this is not the place to start. The first two books are equally epic and amazing. If you like your fantasy huge, filled to the rafters with brilliant ideas, great characters, intensity, action packed, and filled with mysterious magic, demons and loads more, then you’ll absolutely love these books.

In the first book we discover this world in which every night humans must hide behind warded protection from the corlings (demons) who appear out of the earth. Arlen Bales is a young boy when we first meet him, but Arlen becomes a messenger, a dangerous but privileged position, learning the wards for protection as he must strike out across the townships taking the post with him, his life on the line ever night. Eventually Arlen meets Jardir, the leaders of a tribe in the deep south, a tribe that fights the demons every night, using mysterious new wards, while their women and children hide in an underground city. The two become firm friends until the discovery of an ancient city thought lost, and a magical warded spear.

The second book in the series gives us a full history of Jardir and how he achieved his position. Then how he brings the tribes together and launches a brutal attack on the northern cities.

Of course there more to it than that, but you really really need to read the first two books in the series.

In the third book we see history from the other side, Jardir’s powerful wife, Inevera, was behind many of his decisions and in this book we discover her history. And we see the two sides preparing for the night battle of the “waning” when the most powerful corlings come to the surface to fight. The time when the two sides, the united tribes of the south, and the northern cities, will battle draws ever closer. The characters relationships proving more and more problematic because of it. The daylight war is coming…

The books are not focused on a single character, although sometimes it does seem that way. There are several other characters, all important to the story, and too many to list. The books thus far have given us a massive history, we watch the characters grow and develop, and this is the key to drawing you in. This feels more like watching a life, rather than following a plot.

The people are waiting for The Deliverer to battle the corlings and free them from their constant nightly struggle, but is it Arlen or Jardir? Both of them are building armies, the various characters aligning with one or another of them. Friendship, politics, love and intrigue all fight for dominance.

This is a massive book, and I was conflicted. I wanted to read it quickly and get to the end to find out what happens next (probably the best cliff-hanger in the history of fantasy, giving Andy Remic’s Kell’s Legend a run for its money!), and savouring every single page of brilliance.

Brett is an artist and the page his tapestry. He has woven a tale of magnificence. I can’t wait for the next volume, I need to know what happens next.

THE DEPARTURE By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by stanleyriiks

A few hundred years in the future, the world is run by the Committee: an evil, faceless bureaucracy that punishes disagreeable thought, and polices the world with robotic killers, and the Inspectorate (a military police force who crack down on the populace without mercy). Earth is running out of food, resources are depleted after the world is raped and abused. Billions must die so that the Committee can continue to rule those that are left, those deemed societally valuable. Those not valuable to society or the Committee (zero-assets or ZAs) will be killed, slaughtered by a massive set of lasers orbiting the planet.

The small Mars colony is abandoned by a resource hungry Earth, the Committee set about planning the murder of those not valuable enough to continue living when one of them finds out about the Committee’s plans. A rebellion is about to take place on Mars.

Alan Saul wakes up on his way to an incinerator (where the Committee sends its enemies), and sets about causing as much pain as he can to the Committee and those responsible to turning him into the man he is today. The man who remembers nothing of his past over than it was wiped from his memory by pain.

This is Asher’s modern take on 1984.

I’m a bit of a fan of Asher, and I do mean a bit. I really enjoyed the adventure and exploration of The Skinner, but found the second book in the Spatterjay series, The Voyage of the Sable Keech to be repetitive and disappointing, so I was looking forward to trying a new series from the author. This one looked a little more action-packed, so I thought I’d give this a go. To a certain extent it is action-packed, but Asher’s writing style doesn’t lend itself to speed and pace, there is a lot of description, and everything is explained fully so the world we explore is finely detailed and exciting. But there’s a distinct lack of speed, the action is realised with Asher’s trademark adventure style (like paddling along a river in a row boat [albeit a river filled with flesh-eating monsters and surrounded on all sides from immortal pirates]), not the pace and drive of an Andy Remic novel (a rollercoaster thrill-ride that’ll take your breath away).

Having said that the book builds nicely towards the climax, even if the action sequences aren’t as action-packed or as fast-paced as you might expect. The world is a genuinely entertaining dystopia, and Asher’s characters are compelling, Saul in particular is someone who is massively memorable.

This is part of the Owner series, and do not misunderstand, this is in no way a stand-alone novel. It ends on a massive cliff-hanger halfway through the story, and you have to continue with Zero Point, the second book in the series which I will be reading shortly.

Asher has created an amazing world and some great characters, but the promise of an action-lead novel doesn’t quite materialise. This is more of the same, adventure and excitement, not a full, in-your-face action-a-thon.  Still enjoyable, and I’ll be reading Zero Point to make sure I find out how the stories continues, as it just gets really interesting at the end of this book.

THE COLD COMMANDS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

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I read the first book in this series around two years ago, and you know what, I can barely remember any of it. I remember the three main characters (after my memory is jogged reading about them again), who are all here, present and correct. I vaguely remember feeling like the book ended on a cliff-hanger and feeling a little bit cheated, but I still enjoyed it enough to put the second book in the series (trilogy?) on my Christmas list for Santa to buy me. So in amongst my stacks of drugs and porn and alcohol (ok, so it was pretty much all books that Santa brought me!), I found this SF/fantasy novel (and it’s got a nice cover which always draws me in) and sat down to read it.

Ringil Eskiath is a true antihero, although we find him rescuing slaves after his cousin was imprisoned by a slave-trader. He’s a tough, no-nonsense S.O.B. who demands your attention, a mean man with a massive alien sword.

Archeth is a half-alien female who works for the new emperor, a paranoid young man intent on ridding his empire of enemies by having them flayed alive by octopi.

Egar the Dragonbane is having an affair with the wife of a war hero, but his adventures into a religious fortress will bring the three old friends back together, whether they like it or not, with magic, death, and betrayal to get in their way.

This book (I think like the first, my memory is not what it once was!) takes a long time to gather speed, there are almost three hundred pages of build-up as the story meanders along, setting everything up for the inevitable climax. When it does comes there’s plenty of action and intrigue, although Ringal is a little too superheroic and never appears in danger of being hurt, let alone losing a fight. He’s a bit too invincible, like Judge Dredd with a sword.

Morgan’s writing is good, he manages to draw you in without you realising, the atmosphere and world are vividly portrayed, but there’s a lingering sense of missing something. Perhaps it’s been too long between instalments, but I felt like I missed the oft-referred to war (did it appear in the first book?).

Despite confusing the hell out of me, the grey lands are strange and mysterious and make everything seem a bit too easy at the end. I couldn’t help but enjoy Egar’s tough steppe barbarian, Archeth’s frustrated diplomat and Ringal’s menacing killer. The characters are really what make this book, and Morgan has done a first rate job with them. I’ll be back for more despite my misgivings, fantasy doesn’t get much more original or compelling than this.

MARVEL ZOMBIES By Kirkman, Phillips, Suydam – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I have a decent comic collection, but unlike books or films, they are a kind of take ‘em or leave ‘em thing for me. I’ll get into comic books for a few months, buy a load of graphic novels (stand-alone stories or mini-series are much preferable to the unending arcs of the regular issues), read most of them and then put them away in a box under the bed and not bother going to the comic shop for a few years.

I generally don’t read Marvel comics, I prefer my superheroes darker and more mature, like Batman and the Vertigo line. I like Frank Millar, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis. Traditional superheroes, like the Marvel characters, I prefer to watch now that films have surpassed the drawn page.

But Marvel Zombies intrigued me. The very idea is genius. Mix popular superheroes with zombies and see what happens.

This is not your average Marvel superhero story, and Marvel brought in none other than The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman to write it. The story seems to have already started when we enter the action, Magneto (normally a villain) is fighting for his life against the rest of the Marvel Universe who have been turned into zombies. They want to eat him. The Fantastic Four have been banished to an alternative dimension, and only The Black Panther (who is being held captive and slowly eaten) is available to stop the ravening hordes.

The Silver Surfer appears briefly, only to become more food.

Like The Walking Dead TV series (I’ve not read the comics), this is mostly about the character interactions and exploring (slightly) the zombie mythos.  It’s all fairly good stuff, nothing massively exciting, but it builds nicely towards a massive zombie battle and then, typical of comic books, leaves a nice cliff-hanger for the story to continue in the next episode (collected together in the appropriately titled Marvel Zombies 2) surprisingly enough.

The gruesome artwork and some quite shocking scenes beat out the weak story to make this book worthwhile. It’s the perfect introduction to horror comic books for those uninitiated and for fans of Marvel’s superheroes it is a stark and brutal reminder of the horror of zombies.

Good, but not great, the idea behind it is sheer genius. The execution is entertaining, and very dark, not what you would normally except from the house of ideas. Zombies rule, in the Marvel Universe too.

INNOCENCE PROVES NOTHING By Sandy Mitchell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by stanleyriiks

They’ve done it a-bloody-gain! I bought this book after reading the first instalment, Scourge The Heretic, which, with one plot only half complete, leads directly into this book. The problem is that the story doesn’t actually finish here either. This seems to be an ongoing series. The problem is certainly is not the length of the story, but the way the books are marketed. There is nowhere on any of the books to let you know this is not a whole story, and neither of these books is an entire story. There are plot lines that are completed, but these are smaller parts of the whole, which continues throughout both novels, and continues at least into a third, as yet unreleased book.

Nowhere is there any information saying that this is the second instalment in a series, and I have to say I feel even more cheated having thought this was the final chapter in the story.

And it is a good story, as we follow Inquisitor Finurbi’s team of investigators back to the Inquisition’s home world of Scintilla only to find Finurbi’s gone AWOL and that there are those in the Inquisition that cannot be trusted. The group must go underground, hiding as they are chased by parties unknown, meanwhile investigating the wyrd supply-chain which is moving illegal psykers across the galaxy.

It’s another good book, plenty of action and even more intrigue than the first novel, although it lacks the new adventure punch of the first. The problem again lies with the book not completing the story, even more so because it ends with a powerful cliff-hanger.

A shame that this book can’t be cleared marked as the second in a trilogy or series. I have no idea which because there’s nothing at all to indicate what it is, but an average reader picking this book up expecting a complete novel will not only find themselves floundering as they attempt to catch up with the whole missing first instalment, but will be wracked with frustration when they find out they’ll be expected to pay out for another book to find out the end.

A sad and sorrowful mistake. Not the book, the book is fine, but I really am getting sick of it. I think I may stick with the Horus Heresy, I know that’s a series because it’s clearly marked as such, and despite that each of the books is a stand-alone story. Must do much better gamesworkshop!

Sorely disappointed. Again.