Friday, 29 April 2016

The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power

Huge thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me an advance readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Quite recently, I was introduced to the world of using dragons in warfare through Naomi Novik's Temeraire. That was a book which I thoroughly enjoyed and so, given the opportunity, I took another dive into this genre with The Dragon Round, billed as being for fans of Novik and George R. R. Martin. I was intrigued.

The book began fairly positively, and I did enjoy reading it, but things changed about halfway through. I was also quite disappointed by the ending, although it has been left open to a sequel, which is good. The plot is actually quite similar to The Count of Monte Cristo, but with dragons as a means of revenge. The main character is quite robust and hardy, likeable as well, but a bit two dimensional. The supporting cast are likewise a little flat, with the exception of the dragon.

This book had positives though. The quality of the writing, even though the style wasn't my usual cup of tea, was, in places, phenomenal. With a bit more time and a lot more work, I believe this story could be even better. It has the makings of a tv show or a movie, if they flesh out the characters and the ending a bit more.

Star rating: 3 from 5

The Dragon Round will be published on 19th July 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Many thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Some of you may frown but I enjoyed reading Percy Jackson. It was interesting to see Greek gods in the modern world. So, when I heard about The Immortals, hyped as a grown up PJ, and a bit like American Gods by Neil Bauman, I thought I would give it a try.

The plot follows Arlene, otherwise known as Artemis, the Greek god of hunting, of the moon etc. as she tries to catch the murderer of a young college professor. Trying to solve the same murder is Theo, one time boyfriend and lover of the victim, Helen, and also a professor of classics. Eventually, their search joins them together and they discover a much more dangerous threat to the gods and the world.

I wasn't expecting brilliance, and for the first 50 or so pages, I wasn't mistaken. However, as the story progressed, so did the quality of the plot. The beginning is slow, if I'm honest, and a little dull, to the point that I almost put it down for good. Yet I stuck with it and was richly rewarded. The writing is easy to follow, the plot twists often unexpected, and the characters are likeable.

All in all, I enjoyed The Immortals, despite the poor start. I would recommend it to Percy Jackson and American Gods fans alike.

Star rating: 4 from 5

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Cloven Hooves by Megan Lindholm

As many of you know, Robin Hobb has, in the last two years, become one of my favourite fantasy writers of all time. Some of you won't know that she also writes fantasy under the pen name Megan Lindholm. These books are very different from the world of the Farseer stories in style and content, and they often reflect on different aspects of human culture, whether it be travellers, homelessness, or, in this case, living in the wilderness of Alaska and more modern civilisation.

Cloven Hooves follows Evelyn, the young wife of Tom. Together they have a child, Teddy. After an accident with one of Tom's parents' workers, the family decide to take an extended vacation in order to help out the family business. However, Evelyn's in-laws seem to have it in for her and it starts to put a strain on her marriage.

Evelyn also has a past. A friend from when she was a child, a faun called Pan for who she had secret desires. When he turns up unexpectedly in her new life, things are going to be confusing for her, as well as very, very complicated.

The plot is not too complicated. In fact, this story speaks more to me as a romance than a fantasy. For me, that made it a little disappointing because I had expected it to be more fantasy, and I found the ending to be a little predictable after a while. However, as with all Hobb/Lindholm books the writing is engaging. This was written in the first person present...think along the same lines as Hunger Games if you want a comparison. For me, it makes the book more real, more present. The characters are all over-sexed in my opinion, although Pan is an enigma.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but it wasn't anything stand-out. It is worth reading if you love Hobb's books, but be aware that it is very different.

Star rating: 3.5 from 5

This is the only Megan Lindholm book which is out-of-print. I bought mine through Amazon marketplace is "acceptable" condition. Expect to pay a lot for good quality copies.