Saturday, August 4, 2018

Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton

Salvation
The Salvation Sequence 1
By Peter F. Hamilton

Know your enemy - or be defeated

AD 2204
An alien shipwreck is discovered on a planet at the very limits of human expansion – so Security Director Feriton Kayne selects a team to investigate. The ship’s sinister cargo not only raises bewildering questions, but could also foreshadow humanity’s extinction. It will be up to the team to bring back answers, and the consequences of this voyage will change everything.

Back on Earth, we can now make deserts bloom and extend lifespans indefinitely, so humanity seems invulnerable. We therefore welcomed the Olyix to Earth when they contacted us. They needed fuel for their pilgrimage across the galaxy – and in exchange they helped us advance our technology. But were the Olyix a blessing or a curse?

THE FAR FUTURE
Many lightyears from Earth, Dellian and his clan of genetically-engineered soldiers are raised with one goal. They must confront and destroy their ancient adversary. The enemy caused mankind to flee across the galaxy and they hunt us still. If they aren’t stopped, we will be wiped out – and we’re running out of time.

544 pages
Published by Pan Macmillan
Published on September 11, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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Loved it!

When I first read that Hamilton was not returning to the Commonwealth universe in this, his new novel, I was really disappointed. I adore the Commonwealth and the stories he has written within it.

But this new novel is just brilliant.

It truly showcases what a creative genius, Hamilton is. From his ability to pull trends and social movements from our world today and to extrapolate them into what they could become, to his ability to twist plots and give his readers a story that is basically akin to a messed up Rubik's cube - which we then have the sheer joy of watching a master put back together before our eyes, to his understanding of science and its principles and just what could be on our horizon (I think R&D departments of Virgin Space, Tesla, Google, Apple and Samsung etc, need to be going through his work with a fine tooth comb for ideas because his novels are bursting with them).

This book has action, murder, mystery, space, science, far-future tech, human interest and detective work all rolled into one. It is fast paced, insightful and thrilling. An absolute joy to read. And I cannot wait for book.  Or for the audiobook to be released because I will be reading/listening to it again then!

You can buy it here 

Monday, June 4, 2018

On My Radar - June 2018

Working my way through the list of new releases for June, I thought I'd bring your attention to some of the titles on my radar for this month.

So let's get into it! (In no particular order):

The Imager Portfolio #11

Six years have passed since the failed uprising of the High Holders, and Charyn, the rex's heir, has come of age and sets out to educate himself, against his father's wishes, on how to be an effective rex after his father.

When privateers attack the rex's ships, and threats escalate against the rex and his family, Charyn realizes that no one is safe--for an assassin stalks them all.

The future of Solidar rests in Charyn's hands. Will he rise to the challenge or will the kingdom descend into chaos?

The Imager Portfolio
#1 Imager / #2 Imager's Challenge / #3 Imager's Intrigue / #4 Scholar / #5 Princeps / #6 Imager's Battalion / #7 Antiagon Fire / #8 Rex Regis / #9 Madness in Solidar / #10 Treachery's Tools / #11 Assassin's Price

One of my favourite author's Modesitt has captivating style and is a master of world building. Never repeating himself - and he is hugely prolific - Modesitt weaves epic fantasy tales driven by character's facing unique struggles as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Check him out.  

The Green Bone Saga

TWO CRIME FAMILIES, ONE SOURCE OF POWER: JADE.

Jade is the lifeblood of the city of Janloon - a stone that enhances a warrior's natural strength and speed. Jade is mined, traded, stolen and killed for, controlled by the ruthless No Peak and Mountain families.

When a modern drug emerges that allows anyone - even foreigners - to wield jade, simmering tension between the two families erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all in the families, from their grandest patriarch to even the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets.

Jade City is an epic tale of blood, family, honour, and of those who live and die by ancient laws in a changing world.


This is one of those books that caught my attention the very first time I a press release about it. Naturally given my own time restrictions I have not been able to find time to actually read it, however it has been garnering much acclaim and has a spot in my (ever growing) TBR pile... somewhere near the top. This is definitely a refreshing change, so check Fonda out. 

Ravencry
Raven's Mark Book 2
By Ed McDonald

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets - especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult - or about strange orders from the Nameless - but when Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he's propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

Ravencry is the second book in the Raven's Mark series, continuing the story that began with the award winning epic fantasy Blackwing.

I loved the first book by McDonald, Blackwing - you can read my review of it here - aand I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one! (Yes, it will likely go to the top of my TBR pile :P ).


Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk… 

Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him. 

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity. But in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction. 

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine. 


Jacqueline Carey is an amazing writer. I still remember reading Kushiel's Dart for the first time and it is - to this day - one of my favourite novels. Carey crafts rich, magical tales of grand adventure. Her prose is nothing sort of masterful and her epic fantasy novels offer her readers poignant and evocative stories of vibrant colour and emotion. 

Carey has said of this novel that: The worldbuilding has an element of New Weird. I hope it will draw vivid pictures in readers’ minds that they’ve never seen before. There are gods in the form of a sandstorm, a towering column of flame, a willow tree, a statue. There’s a ship drawn by sea-wyrms. There’s a guy with dragonfly wings. There’s a giant clairvoyant octopus

Also, this is one of those very rare beasts in the fantasy genre - a standalone!

I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

An Echo of Things to Come

An Echo of Things to Come
The Licanius Trilogy Book Two
By James Islington

As shadows rise, a darkness awakes

An amnesty has been declared for all Augurs - finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. 

However, as Davian and his new allies hurry north towards the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.

Meanwhile, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed . . .




608 pages
Published by Oribt
Published on January 30, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

I purchased this book.
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An Echo of Things to Come is a big book. Huge. Which is just my cup of tea. Second book in the Licanius Trilogy there were actually times that I felt I was reading the final book because SO MUCH HAPPENS; and Islington moves you at an ever increasing pace towards what feels like a conclusion - and it is, of a sort, but it is more the 'end of act two' and set up for act three.

Islington does a great job of spreading his wings in this novel and clearly puts into play the lessons learned while writing the first book. The story closely follows the main characters of book one, Davien, Wirr, Asha and Caedan, - and if you have not read that you may be a little lost as there is no hand-holding or rehashing of what's gone before here. Islington does a masterful job of keeping the readers interest across all four threads with the stories balancing out in a complex dance of wave-like tension, one thread rising while another lowers.

And while each of these stories has interest and merit, the standout - for me - is Caedan's story.

Caedan's journey to regain his lost memories is simply marvelous. Islington uses flashbacks to allow Caedan and the reader to live the revelations rather than just reciting them to us dryly. It is a great use of the flashback device (one that often annoys me, but not here). In fact is almost 'time travel', given we are looking back over millennia and it deepens the readers understanding of what went before and what is happening now in terms of the current timeline plot.

Davien's, Wirr's and Asha's journeys are no less interesting and serve to anchor the story in the 'now'. Through their POV's we see the plans made by Caedan's alter-ego of the past begin to come to fruition and see firsthand just how the foretelling gift of the Augurs moves players across the story like chess pieces.

The pace really starts to crank up in the final third of the book, all the threads rushing towards their  climax - as I said earlier, it often felt as though we were coming to the end of the final book such was the sense of progression in the story. All in all, Islington has written a stellar novel of epic fantasy that ticks many of the boxes for me. I can only see him getting better as he continues his journey as a writer and I am keen to see where he goes next.

An Echo of Things to Come suffers from none of the middle book syndrome that so many other second volumes in a trilogy do. It is a fast paced tale of magic, mysterious, politics, back stabbing and prophecy as we explore the idea of closely our view of identity is molded by our memories. And while Islington does use many familiar tropes he is also using a very cool device with Caedan (no, not the flashbacks) that I do not believe has been widely used in epic fantasy before and offers a very really feeling of 'something new'. If you are a fan of Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson you will surely love this.


Order it now!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Interview with Aidan R Walsh

In my last post I raved about The Game Bird by Aidan R Walsh (Buy it here!).

I have also been lucky enough to sit down with him (on the interwebs) and question him interview him, gaining a greater insight into his world and writing life.

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1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Hi! I’m Aidan (R!) Walsh.

I was born in Newcastle, Australia. I spent primary school in Newcastle before my parents moved us up to the family cattle property outside a little place called Singleton. Singleton was a great country town to grow up in and I got a lot more Sound Garden and old Commodores in my life that I might otherwise have had... I’m also the oldest of five sons, so growing up on a big property involved a lot of motorbikes and blowing things up and other general mayhem.

After school I moved back to Newcastle for university, where I read Classics extremely lazily, before going on to work at a large telco.



2. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

God, all of them. At eighteen I was a dolt. A dolt who embarrassingly thought he was clever.

To pick one idiotic thing, I had a weirdly British Imperial concept of manhood. Very into pluck,  fortitude and duuuuteh and other John Buchan-type  things like that. Some of those attributes are fine, and I think being able to deal with disaster and keep your head isn’t such a bad thing, but thankfully my views of what manhood and masculinity can and should  be have rather broadened since.

3. What books, or authors, would you say have most influenced you in the type of writer you've become?

There are far too many fantastic writers that I’ve learnt from and enjoyed to list, but in no particular order I’d say my chief influences are:

Georgette Heyer
Robin Hobb
David Eddings
David Gemmell
Naomi Novik
Dorothy L. Sayers
Patrick O’Brian
Keith Douglas
Tolkien

4. Please tell us about your debut novel, The Game Bird.

Putting my marketers hat on, I call The Game Bird a swashbuckling black powder fantasy, wrapped around a spine of darkness and romance.

There are two main characters. The first is a young sea-captain who, in an effort to escape his debtors, sets out to hunt a sea-monster. The second is a clever young woman who carries a curse and is hunted by a half daemon assassin. Then there are leviathans, weather mages, secret societies, storms and mutiny.

Think Heyer’s Regency period and romance, O’Brian’s ships and seas and Eddings, Hobbs and Gemmell’s fantasy. All mashed together.


5. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Time! Time! Time!

I’m fortunate that ideas come to me easily and I can write quite briskly, but finding time is a real challenge. I work a job that regularly gets me for sixty hours a week and I try to be a present husband and dad – and all that just makes it hard to find time. I’d say at least 80% of The Game Bird was written between 21:00 and 02:00.

6. How do you balance what you're reading against what you're writing?

In my case, with difficulty.

I find it very hard to keep my own voice when reading a great novel at the same time as I am writing. Consequently, I read something very, very different to what I’m working on. Or I just read non-fiction. In the case of The Game Bird I wolfed down a huge number of Regency period letters, biographies and diaries while I was writing.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Enjoyment! I just tried my best to write a book that would be a really enjoyable adventure.

I also hope people like and remember my characters. I’m a bit sick of fantasy’s current gloominess and I wanted to write characters that are flawed, foolish and silly at times – but basically good people doing their best. People who you want to succeed.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I’m tempted to lie and say something adult like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but my real answer would have to be the polar explorer, Tom Crean. His fortitude, good humour, endless patience, unshakeable bravery and almost complete humility is just incredible (also, maybe I haven’t changed that much since 18).



9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Five hundred years before the events of The Game Bird,  there was a great upheaval in my world into which burst a hero (and maybe prophet – which the world has fought about endlessly since), Prince Isaladar. I’d love to write an epic trilogy covering his life. I’d have to hone my craft a lot before I had a crack at that though.

Even less practically, I’ve set myself the goal to make enough money from writing to buy a 1972 Buick GSX.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

For God’s sake write.

So many writers don’t ever seem to  finish anything. I’ve been in and out of writing clubs and groups for the last ten years and for every one writer who fails because they’re not good enough, I’ve seen dozens who just petered out because they just didn’t stick at the whole putting words on a page thing.

Just write!

It’s never easy to sit down at the end (or start) of a long day when you could be having a beer / playing a game / watching Netflix, but if you’re serious about writing that’s what you need to do. As often as you can without going crazy or wrecking your health.

Aidan R Walsh, thank you for your time.
Readers can find Aidan on Facebook, Twiiter and online here.

Buy The Game Bird now!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Game Bird

The Game Bird
By Aidan R Walsh

An evil is growing. The Realm is under attack. A leviathan has risen from the depths and is destroying the fleets that feed Stormhaven.

Stuck ashore and drowning in debt, Captain James Faulkner resolves to hunt the sea monster and claim the enormous bounty on the beast.

Sophia Blake's life looks effortless. But she carries a secret, an occult curse that is capable of destroying both her and her nation. Sophia knows her time is running out.

The Tallowman is a slowly decaying melding of demon and man. This monstrous assassin is desperate to capture Sophia and will let nothing stand between it and its prey.

As these hunts build to their shattering conclusion, Faulkner and Sophia will be thrown together and forced to confront malevolent forces beyond their imagining. The Game Bird is a swashbuckling black powder fantasy, wrapped around a spine of darkness.

404 pages
Published by Aidan R Walsh
Published on April 3, 2018

I purchased this book.
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In his debut novel The Game Bird, Aussie author Aidan R Walsh dispenses with the more traditional medieval type setting of most fantasy novels and sets his tale upon the bones of a Regency England stage. I was - at first - concerned this setting would overwhelm the understanding that the book is not, in fact, set on earth. It didn't. With a sure hand belying the fact that this is his first novel, Walsh allows the story and characters to tell his tale in such a way that while there is a feeling of familiarity to the world, it is very much his own creation.

Set in the city of Stormhaven, and the seas that surround it, The Game Bird tells the tale of Captain James Faulkner, a semi-retired war hero down on his luck since the last war ended and the Kingdom put many of its navy personnel on half-pay. Looking for a solution to pay off his enormous debt he decides to try his luck in taking out a monstrous leviathan that is attacking the traffic of the Kingdom’s shipping lanes, hoping to win the bounty placed on its head to ease his woes. Joining him on this adventure is Sophia Blake, a young lady of standing with a secret she and her father are desperate to keep from society, and the world at large. Unbeknownst to Sophia - or her father - the secret of her supernatural powers is already known by the Tallowman, the nefarious agent of an ancient evil, thought by many to be just a legend. His goal is to capture Sophia and her power for his master, at any cost.

The Game Bird is a swashbuckling, stand-alone tale of high adventure and romance, set in a beautifully realised world. Walsh's writing is rich in history and lore, which he uses to masterfully colour his world - never once letting the details overwhelm the story and to present us with vivid characters that leap off the page and into your heart. It is a rip-roaring romp blending the sensibilities of Georgette Heyer, Patrick O'Brian and George R R Martin in a page turning read that is sure to find a wide audience.

On a personal note I am disheartened that a book this good was unable to find a home with a traditional publisher. We are exceedingly lucky that Walsh did not give up his quest to bring his writing to the world and that the facilities of self-publishing are quiet comprehensive these days. I highly recommend this book, indeed such are his writing chops that I am sure I would recommend any book by Walsh. I cannot wait for further adventures with these characters – or any characters he cares to introduce - and stories set in this world.

Order it now!