Review of Beyonders Vol 1 by Paul Jenkins, Mike Marts (Editor), Wesley St Claire (Contributor)

42789830

I was given a copy via netgalley in exchange for a fair review

The best thing about this book is the Welsh Corgi.

He’s the main character of the story. Let no else dissuade you from that.

I enjoyed Beyonders, it def had a good sense of mystery and intrigue. Though at times the scientific jargon was a bit too much. I’ve read a lot of thrillers especially concerning Ancient World mysteries and they have the same problem.

In order to write an alternate history or to present a conspiracy theory, you have to make it sound interesting. But there should be a limit within how much you present as scientific jargon, and how much you present it as dialogue.

The problem I had, was while this referenced Assassin’s Creed (fantastic!) it went too much like Salvation (A US TV show based on an incoming doomsday) which had too many confusing character arcs. In the sense that Jake, and Liam Cole are very similar. They keep going on and on with the jargon. I don’t know much, but all I would say is to make it less scientific and more engaging. Okay so, for example, I’ve read about climate change. What new can you tell me about it? Say what’s happening in the Brazilian Rainforests? From a distance, I don’t know much about it until I hear it from a person that’s directly affected by it. Does it affect a farmer? Does it affect an individual?

The pacing was a bit too fast for me. At times we went from so many different locations that at the end this is a problem I have with comic book movies. You are going so fast I would have preferred to stay in one place. Like, say Asterix and Obelix. Every city you went to. you spent at least 2-3 pages here. At one point we were in Istanbul, the next in another city etc.

That would be my honest criticism.

However, don’t let this dissuade you. If you want an action-filled adventure comic that we don’t get about enough more connecting mysterious ancient conspiracies, then look no further than Beyonders.

I really want the next series to go to Ancient Egypt. Please add a time machine! One of the problems I have with plots like this sure we’re always in the Modern day. Why not have some perspectives of the Ancient People? What would they think? Its always interesting to you know to do this. I’ve read 1636 by Eric Flint and the entire series is people from the 21st century interacting with people from 1636? If all we see is another order bent on saving/destroying the world, why don’t we push this a little further? Why don’t we have a time travelling ministry or a machine that has been run by the Ancient Egyptians? They probably have a secret order that has existed for all eternity and in the end they may return to conquer the world and they’re all agents of Pharoah Tutmose III who in all accounts was the Napoleon of Egypt.

Just my thoughts!

Review of Relay Vol. 1: Reality Denied by Zac Thompson (Goodreads Author), Donny Cates , Mike Marts (Editor) , Andy Clarke (Contributor) , Ryan Bodenheim (Contributor)

42458958

I was given a review copy via netgalley in exchange for a fair review

What if Humanity was nothing more than a gigantic experiment made true by a giant monolith?

What if Humanity itself was….a creation of its own evils?

What if Humanity was deep down, never the morally good race as we like to depict ourselves, but as the violent human beings that became corrupted after the Gods left us? Ra broke with humanity, Vishnu reincarnated ten times onto this earth to defeat earth, before in Kal-Yug. Were the Gods aliens? Or who were the aliens in the relay?

What drives hope? What drives fear? Why should humanity suffer and not prosper?

These are some of the deep implications that this comic will make you question. It questions your morality, it shows you a dark side of humanity that is comparable to Star Trek and Babylon 5.

There is not much I can say but I did not want this to finish. Not at all. It was an amazing novel. I would ask that the next series focuses a little less on the scientific jargon and makes it more accessible. This could easily be a movie in its own right.

Why has no one adopted this as a movie? Come on Hollywood, adapt!

5/5

Review of Swords and Silence

Image result for sword and silence shaun curry

Author Bio:

Shaun Curry is a British-Canadian Business Development Director and Fundraising Director, who has worked for Gottex Fund Management and Merrill Lynch International. An expert in the history of Christianity in Japan throughout the 16th and 17th Century, Shaun undertook research at The Vatican and The British Library, in addition to having lived in Japan.

Shaun also studied and worked in Japan, particularly in the southern island of Kyushu, including Nagasaki and neighbouring regions. While living in Tokyo, he studied Aikido at Hombu Dojo, the World Aikido Headquarters, and holds a black belt in the martial art. Shaun Curry has a strong passion for Japan, its people and culture

Warning: Some spoilers but not much

Swords and Silence is a brutal story about the persecution of Christians in Japan, when the Shogun Imeitsu was fearful of foreign intervention from the Portugesse and the Dutch. This was an age after the Sengoku Jidhai, the civil war of Japan’s warlords had ended. In a way, Father Joaquim was one of the most bravest characters in the book. No matter what came in his way, whether it was through the storms, the tortures, he possessed a mind like Lincoln. Why do I compare them two?

Because they faced extreme adversity even when the world wasn’t on their side. Lincoln fought to preserve the Union whereas Joaquim was determined to protect the Christians he knew. Shaun did a fantastic job with the research of the novel, especially depicting the power of the Japanese Warlords and I could not help but wonder what about the warlords of Europe as well? Did they not loot and pillage villages for the sake of power? Had the Japanese Lords met with the European Feudal Lords, there would have been a lot for them to agree on. What would that be? Wealth, exploitation of the people, and power to the highest authority on land.

I did feel some scenes were not given attention too much, considering that this topic itself is a vast subject by itself. There could have been multiple reasons the Shogun did persecution and it made me wonder, looking at how Japan has become so successful today, and examining its history as a world power arising from the 1904-05 war, what would have happened had the Shogun not barred entry to the Western Powers? What if we saw an alternate history where the Japanese sent their Christians to America? That was in an Eric Flint novel where I had read, or if the Shogun had declared religious tolerance, what kind of Japan would we be seeing now? The possibilities are endless.

There is a wonderful message of religions helping each other out. I will no spoil this, but this is the era of the 1600s and life was brutal for anyone living in that period whether you were a King, Court, Scholar, Emperor. If you’re thinking this novel has Samurai of course it does. But it has brutal warlords, samurai wanting power, and a lot of pesky and stupid governors as we all know what they’re likely going to do. But then again, this was also common in Medieval Korea and the Ming Empire.

I found this an amazing novel. The character prose, the writing style, everything was so well researched it felt at times I was watching a movie. I really enjoyed this.

Thank you to Harper Inspire, Bengono Bessla, Harper Collins for sending me this novel. I was really impressed with the attention to detial and a massive thank you to Shaun. I really really really enjoyed it.

Don’t miss this novel. Take it, buy it. It teaches you a fundamental lesson in life that cannot be explained in simple words.

My rating: 5/5

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2947974489

Review of To Be Taught if Forunate by Becky Chambers

Author Bio:

Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Wayfarers series, which currently includes The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit, and Record of a Spaceborn Few. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others.

https://www.otherscribbles.com/about

I was given an ARC by Hodderscape Publishers in exchange for a fair review

Review: (Spoliers)

To be Taught if Forunate is my first proper sci-fi novella. In esscance, it’s like as if you combined the Expanse, Farscape, and the Orville altogether, and just examined at the roots of an alternate reality.

What I like is that the realism aspect of four astronauts wondering into space and having then discover that their Earth as we know it is destroyed. In some way, I almost felt this was a different world than ours. Although the setting is the same, could this have been alternate earth where we discovered how to travel to space? I applaud the decision made by Becky to make sure that we were terraforming planets than living in space. Even living in Space is difficult enough already.

But this book is not an adventure, nor an action action orientated novel. It is one of those books that makes you question your humanity. Are we really that cruel that in order to surive we do everything that is needed? One of the most refreshing things I loved about the novel was when the crew didn’t matter about what happened in politics as they were light years ahead.

Chikondi was one of my favorite characters because he seemed the most human out of them all. Pizza, pets, heck anything that could resemble Earth was a plus point. I didn’t feel Jack got much scenes, and so I wished he would have gotten more scenes. The description of the alien animals was also wonderful, but sad when Chikondi had to shoot an animal that he didn’t want too. Otherwise it was game over for the crew.

And they left their families, to return to an earth that is destroyed. At the end, it was a difficult choice. The culture you’ve existed for in thousands of years has now become pointless, and you either spend your time in space or what is the point?

I make a historical comparison to the Romans. Even though they were Christians, I almost felt that when their Empire fell, they were probably shocked. Rome had existed for thousands of years despite so many frequent civil wars. If you were a Roman wandering through the ruined city streets of Rome after Belisarius left, after Stilcho died, you would have felt like moving. Your entire culture was gone. Everything you knew and loved was gone. The days of when Ceasar and the Republic seem like a long time ago.

And that’s what I felt with Adriadne and the crew.

A fantastic novella, one of the best. I loved this.

Thank you to Hodderscape for allowing me to review this.

Rating: 5/5

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Author Bio:

Phenderson Djéli Clark is the award winning and Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots,Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.

About

Opening Impressions:

THIS is the reason why I review diverse fantasy such as this. What an amazing book!

Thank you to the amazing soul at Tor that sent this book to me. I have throughly enjoyed it.

Seriously what an amazing book!

One of the best I’ve read. I’ve chuckled so much in this novel that Hamed and Onsi are my favorite characters.

Seriously, P. Djelli Clark has done an outstanding job.

It is a mere 144 pages, but I wish it was longer!

Review:

From what I read, the exquisite description of this novel was so stunning I throughly enjoyed the amount of research that P. Djeli Clark employed in this novel. Recently I had watched an Egyptian film called the Treasure (2017) that showed the stiff corruption of the Egyptian bureacracy. I was also glad to see how the old European Empires who seemed to be having a gala time in the 19th century with their powers were instantly stopped when they realized that Muhammad Ali and his secret Djinn agent drove them back.

It also reminds me of what an Alternate Egypt would have looked like had Muhammad Ali not been disposed by the British. I absoutely adored the lavish descriptions, the fact that trams had sentient beings. I would have loved to seen more Ancient Egyptian influnces and more spirits related to Kemetisim, as they were still alive but in small pockets. The Cover! Oh the Cover is so beautiful!

It tells you everything to expect in a story. P.Dejli Clark, write a SEQUEL! This novella wanted me to read more about this fantastic novel. The lavish descriptions…

What can I say?

What was more amusing was the fact that an Ancient evil spirit from Armenia was transported into Steampunk Egypt through an smuggling trade of candy.

How absurd can that be? That’s the whole basis.

I’d call this as an arrogant and stubborn agent who grows passionate towards his younger assistant, even caring for him. Hamed is quite the character indeed. Very traditional. Whereas Onsi represents the enlightened ‘nationalist’. I had studied the Algerian Nationalist Movement in France during the 1930s, and Onsi is very much like them.

All I can say is, 5/5. Honestly thank you to the kind person at Tor for sending me this!

Review of the Awakening Aten

I was given a ARC in exchange for a fair review via Netgalley. Thank you to Aidan K. Morrisey and Troubadour Publishing.

The Awakening Aten is a sweeping drama centered on the Rise of Atenism and the decline of Egypt’s old religion.

 I imagine that Yuya himself was an Israelite Jew pressed into the service of the Hittite Army.

 Aidan has done a huge amount of research within this novel, faithfully creating what is essentially a diary of daily Egyptian life.

 My main point for improvement was that not much happened in between the novels, we were moving scenes from Kha’s son, Djoser to see how he becomes a man and transition himself into a political life that makes GOT looks very amateur. Egyptian Royal Politics was so inter-wound with their tombs, you’d be hard-pressed to find another culture that puts so much emphasis on its tombs. Now I understand why Egyptians kept building them so much. The tomb was your way to the afterlife.

 A word of warning, the action is meaningful enough with a battle with the Hittites, and Aidan produces a fantastic sentence describing the fluttering of the flag across the wind as bodies are piled onto the floor. He also shows how Egypt’s royal monarchy falls in corruption as the High Priests are basically what caused Atenism to erupt. That was my general impression. But if the Priests of culture get corrupt, then people like Martin Luther did in Germany with raising his new Protestant religion. King Thutmose also doubts the nature of the Gods, for if the Gods are not controlling the sins of men, then what use are they? Could one God give all of that?

 However, I disagreed with this point of view. The main point there should have been a character who worshipped the Gods but hated that the Priests had made themselves rich and corrupt. He would have a solid counter-argument to Atenism, arguing that it was the will of the Priests to choose. If the Gods created this world, then it was human will that led to wars and massacres. It was humans after all that split away from Ra from becoming too rebellious. If we see another character like this in the next novel, I will be pleased.

 Many times I thought the author described too much effort into explaining a lot of detail about Egyptian life. While helpful, I felt this is a problem with historical fiction novels as authors have to often describe the details you don’t know about. Aidan is an Egyptologist so that makes me envious of him. Although there were many scenes which dragged on, and it felt like a family drama sometimes. This is not a fault, this is more of the fact that you’re describing an army scene for example. Aidan showed Kha on the chariot and then he’s asking the Officer what an army is. The officer went into a lot of detail, but I would have wanted to see the descriptions of the Medjay Guard in an action for example. Rather than describing it. But how can you balance both of show and tell in a scene like this? Kha is a scribe and thus he’s never heard or seen an army in his life. Now say you wrote a Napoleonic story, it would be much easier to describe French Bluecoats and the Imperial Guard marching onto the battlefield, drums waving, and their muskets glinting in the sunlight as cannons roar around them. Whereas say with an Egyptian battlefield, I would have wanted a more active description, more cinematic action, more details of soldiers crushing their clubs into each other.

 My feedback would be is to balance between describing, showing and telling. Sometimes I felt it was more of a history book, so the pace was slow in between. However, in the next sequel, I would like to see more emphasis on more political intrigue, more maneuvering, more action and less describing and telling.

 Overall, I’d give this 4/5 for a solid effort. Aidan has done more research than anyone ever could, and I think he’s done more of a fantastic job with this novel. Although I would say that in the next novel he focuses the story in the Pendulum genre and make the story more important while keeping the main aesthetic of the historical detail at hand. If you like Egyptian court politics, and drama this is for you.

 This is like Steven Saylor’s Empire, only in much more detail.

 Worth the recommendation and thank you, Aidan, for creating a work of art!


	

Review of the Battle Comic by by Script by Frédéric Richaud & Patrick Rambaud – Art by Ivan Gil

I was given a chance by Netgalley via this ARC.

First off, it's very rare that you get Napoleonic Fiction in comics.

Second, the amount of detail and research that went into this comic was awesome.

Third, you get little historical fiction in comics at all! I found this a rare treat. It showed the grandness of the French army, but it also showed how Napoleon loved war. Napoleon treated war as a mistress as it never left him.

Though I would have preferred to see Davout's Corps in action, as we show here the French looting and pillaging, Davout was one marshall that forbade this from happening.

I also loved the battle scene depictions, and credit goes to the authors and incredible artist for creating this.

I would love to review more historical fiction comics in the future!

Review of Mazes of Magic by Jack Maasa

43065392. sy475

Opening Review:

Mazes of Magic is an unusual book that focuses on mystical magic and Egyptian Gods. Sounds Awesome? Of course, it does. Set in the era of the new Ptolemaic Dynasty, Egypt has transitioned from Egyptian rule to a bunch of Greeks that they don’t like. Massa presents a unique picture of what happens in the aftermath after Alexander’s conquests. The story focuses on Korax, a poet and a philosopher from Rhodes. Rhodes was a city of splendour and fame. But its history is not explored in much depth. You don’t see much written about Rhodes, despite the fact that it played an important role in Greek History. There are many lesser-known cities in the Greek period that don’t get enough attention apart from Delphi, Sparta, and Athens. So I consider this a very wise decision.

Brief Overview:

During this time, Korax learns to read like a scribe as Honrouphis has much godlier ambitions to become the High Priest of Egypt and use Korax for his own needs. Harnouphis is a difficult character to deal with because he falls into two categories of this novel. On the one hand, he is a highly ambitious man that wants the priesthood of Egypt on his side. On the other, he falls into the category of many villains that want the same thing. Power. This makes his character sometimes feel one-dimensional in the sense that we do not get a deeper back story as to what drives Harnouphis to retain power. I felt as if Harnouphis needed more scenes to fully show his dangerous side. To see how he would welcome the Gods, to demonstrate how he would be seen as the righteous man

The entire novel is based on a game of cat and mouse. Korax gathers allies to help him against Harnouphis and his minion, Mehen.

Themes:

The first theme we will start is with the Greek Underworld:

Firstly, to have a character experiencing his turmoil in the Greek Underworld, and to be so quickly cast away was one of the best openings I have seen for a historical novel that deals with Gods and Mythology. When he is cast-away into the Greek Underworld, forgetting his life, that’s what made want to read on and discover about his past life. I feel as if enough novels do not cover the subject properly especially when it is a historical era.

The second theme relies on Korax’s identity to revive his past. I can understand that while Korax is from Rhodes, I would have appreciated if Maasa had spent more time developing Korax’s fascination with Egypt. Let us look at it this way. It’s like making a character in a Western novel, say an ex-confederate soldier losing his memory and arriving into Cree Territory for example. Therefore this motivation is what drives Korax to reconnect with his culture since he feels he doesn’t belong in a country like Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Greeks may have had disputes with the native Egyptians, but they could only marvel at the achievements of the Egyptians’ architecture and their Gods. Throughout the novel, we often go from chapter to chapter recalling his past. You discover so much about Korax’s past. For example, he was challenged by his mates, often in the chance of proposing to a beautiful woman Korax had liked. The bully in this novel tried many times in his past lifetimes to steal Korax’s limelight.

Maasa’s use of flashbacks was refreshing and I encourage more authors to do this.
The third motif is that Korax begins to lose his Greek identity, forgetting his past and integrating into Egyptian society. Korax begins to learn the secrets of the Temple and wishes to ascend to the House of Life. There’s a scene where he begins to realize he is more Egyptian than Greek. He hates the new name his Egyptian scribes have given him. He is Korax of Rhodes. Korax struggles to retain his natural identity while simultaneously resisting his Egyptian integration. Many times during this novel, we see the first descent of his spiritualness into the Egyptian Afterlife. As he seeks and develops the skills to learn, read and write Egyptian, I would have wanted him to have more of an appreciation of the fact that he was the one selected by the Gods to study this sacred art. Barely 1% of the Egyptian population was literate, and his obsession to go to Rhodes meant that he was not fully aware of the glorious land that he was in. But on the other hand, I can understand his motive. When you have transported into a land thousands of miles away, you will want to go home no matter what. I would have wanted Jack Maasa to strengthen this bond and to make it increasingly difficult for Korax to struggle with his identity. He does this successfully as Korax begins to forget his name, and he becomes more native then even the Egyptians are! I developed a devotion to Mehen, one of the Chief Scribes and true to form, his undying loyalty becomes the fate of his destiny.
Story Overview:
In the middle, Korax learns under the watchful eyes of Mehen, the servant of Harnopuhis. Mehen is one of those characters that although does not like foreigners, you do end up growing to like him. He learns the special arts and meditation techniques of the Egyptian Priesthood, and he begins to become a native. There’s a scene where he walks with Harnopuhis and they meet Ptah. Some of the scene’s descriptions accurately fit the description of the Gods. We see Isis many times, though the cover is centred on her, I didn’t see her role being expanded enough apart from being a wise vision to Korax. I believe we needed a few more scenes with Isis and perhaps Maat as well since she was the justice and lawgiver of the land.
There was a particularly funny scene where Korax was translating a papyrus and it was about an old Vizier describing the turmoil of his mortal life. That was a funny and brilliant little nugget. Jack Maasa paints a picture of Korax’s training by Harnophuis and Mehen, strict and resilient on every move he makes. As time passes, he effectively enables the power to speak with the Gods. This scene was under-developed in the depiction of the Gods in the sense that Korax did not interact with the many Gods available to him. The fact that Korax was being taught in the House of Life would have made wanted to see how a Greek interacted with Egyptian Gods. I would have liked to seen rarer Gods like Nieth, the Goddess of War for example.

Another character I liked was Amasis. The wise old priest that knew a lot about what passed in the Temple. He reminds me of the Old Turtle in Kung Fu Panda. His character was under-used in some situations and I feel he needed to be more of a mentor to Korax than Harnouphis.

Over time, Korax wishes to be initiated in the House of Life. Harnouphis’s scenes illustrate his power, but I felt he fell into the easy category of fulfilling the villain category. I would have liked to see more in-depth characterization with Harnouphis. For instance, he murders a priest so he can go ahead. He worships Set, the God of evil. My only criticism is that while Set will be considered evil, there was a time when he was not. I would have liked to seen Set equivalent to Hades for example. Both Gods are not happy in their realms, and to be honest, if you were a God and you were given a harsh desert land and an underworld, it is the wonder you wouldn’t be happy. But that is what the creator said you had to do. And so you fulfill your duty. I can understand why Jack went for this option because I find Egyptian Philosophy and Hindu Philosophy very similar. Now why these two religions? Because I find that Hindus worshipping their Gods, offering prayers and using Vedic chants to use prayers to strengthen their spiritual soul is similar to the Egyptians offering prayers, offering foods. Both Hindus and Ancient Egyptians had the Gods as a daily part of their lives.

Both Priesthoods were different back then, but the only difference is that Ancient Egyptian religion isn’t as big as it was once was, whereas Hindusim has still survived from the start of human history. Jack could not have gotten into a much deeper philosophical exploration between Set and Harnouphis, perhaps because although Ancient Egypt is widely loved in the West, it’s more because it required laborious translation to explain it to normal people. I mean the scribes that wrote down these texts had access to this sacred knowledge, not the common people. There would be disagreement in this from many other opinions, but when Harnouphis invokes Set all the time, he uses Korax’s body as a mental prison for him. So, therefore, it fits into that narrative of Set manipulating Harnouphis for his own benefit. And indeed Set and Hades were manipulative, their roles demanded it. Korax becomes aware of this every time Set leaves his body. It was Set that commanded that Korax should not know anything about it. As we go on, we see Korax invoking Isis. I was slightly disappointed that we did not get to see much of her role, but whatever role she played was crucial in guiding him. Korax’s past is something I will not dwell on because it is you the reader should figure out. His story is sad, to say the least. Read further, and you will be spiritually enlightened. It is a beautiful tale, and in a way, it felt like the retelling of a story lost in time.

In the end, I felt this ending was rushed. Korax had a love interest but I did not feel she was used enough and a deeper connection was needed. You will figure this out in the novel. Korax’s chemistry with the love interest was not fully developed enough in my opinion and needed more scenes. Korax tells Amasis he wants to leave Egypt and that left me conflicted, because becoming a slave in Ancient Egypt was so difficult, that you would want to stay in Egypt and explore it. His desire to leave Egypt so early left me underwhelmed, as I would have valued his deep connection with Egypt more. To be trained in the House of Life was hard for ordinary Egyptians. However despite the short-comings, its rare you get a historical fiction novel on Egypt that inter-twines deep characterisation with gut-wrenching dialogue and excellent pacing and entwines with mythological Egypt.

Overall, this novel was a treat to read. I would whole heartily recommend it as we do not get enough books like this on Ancient Egypt.

The Adventures of Cardigan by Elaine Bosvik Ciarnau

Author Bio:

​Elaine, the youngest of three siblings, grew up in the Bush Camps of Northern Ontario. During her time in the bush, she was fortunate to learn about prospecting, log rolling, and the animals surrounding her. She was taught archery and how to shoot guns by practicing on tin cans. Her intense love of animals led to many unforgettable memories, such as trips to the garbage dump to watch the bears feed. On her extensive travels with her husband and son, her first stop has always been the zoo. When Elaine became a full-time mom, she decided to write about her days in the Bush Camps and to create, “The Adventures of Cardigan”. She makes her home in NW Ontario with her family, two bratty cats, and many incomplete craft projects. Her hobbies include ballroom dancing, fishing and making jewelry. One day, she hopes to hug a sloth and a koala. 

Link: https://www.adventuresofcardigan.ca/

Review:

Age Range: 6-8

What to expect: Family, Fun and Adventure.

I was provided a Itunes copy by the Author in exchange for a fair review.

This is the first time I’ve reviewed a children’s book, and this is a setting that I do not know about, but leaving that aside,

This was a great and fantastic book to read. Jamie is a likable and fun character and would probably be a great person in real life for his love of animals. I wonder if he will become a Bear Grylls man in the future. The main highlight of the story was Cardigan.

Cardigan is a Welsh Pedigree who is kind, humble and reflects a wisdom that is usually not reflected at all. She helps Jamie at points where there is trouble, she is an encourager that binds humanity and animals together. She’s almost like a spirit. The fact is I enjoyed reading about her, and her relationship with Tippy was fun. I only wished there could have been more scenes.

On the hindsight, while we spent more time with the pets, I didn’t get to see much of the Dad’s involvment in the relationship between Cardigan and Jamie. As much as we saw the mother, who was such a kind lady. She kept up with all of Jamie’s demands, which is a rare quality to find. Jamie did not provide her mother with much trouble either, though this is only a picture book.

I preferred the stylised drawings because it seemed to fit the story in a personal manner. Would I reccomand this book? Yes. It teaches you a lot and I had tears in my eyes when I read this. It takes you back to your childhood and honestly I had a lot of fun reading this.

My rating: 4/5

Review of Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

Image result for anthony ryan wolf's call

This book was provided to me via ARC through Netgalley

Wolf’s Call is perhaps a complicated book full of intrigue, political drama and enough content to sink your teeth into. I enjoyed reading this book, but I must admit that having never read Anthony’s Ryan previous novels, this was hard to get into within the first chapter, but overall it won me over. The prose is excellent, with a uniqueness that I have not seen before. His descriptions of Vaelin using the bow and arrow is crisp and authentic. Thus giving a feeling that the author did his research. Is it Grimdark fantasy? I believe so. There was a particular scene where Vaelin raids a camp with the Northern Guard. It gives a vibe of Asterix’s and Obelix for some particular reason. However, I would implore readers to Tower Lord and Queen of Fire. This is for extra backstory and something I will be doing in the future. The best part was from page forty-seven when Vaelin described gold as the primary product of the realm. It almost sounded like Jon Snow talking.

If one were to ask me what makes this book different, not much. The uniqueness in this novel, however, is that it does attempt to drive away from the Western Medieval fantasy trope, and takes its inspiration from Germanic Paganism which was clear to see within the prologue. Vaelin is a character that you quickly begin to emphasize with, as you realize that he is a soldier at heart that desires peace. But peace can never be his mistress, for war is. Vaelin Al Sorna is the humble version of Ramesses the II. The plot of the book itself has the Steel People coming to declare war which is eerily similar to the Sea People’s that with the help of the Assyrians, destroyed the Hittite Empire and drove into Egypt.

With regards to the plot, it was bascially a bittered warrior running from his past, traveling to the Merchant Kingdoms and defeat the nomadic Kelhbrand. He was also trying to save Sherrin who he had betrayed, and had to deal with Tsai Shao who I felt was under-used in this novel. We did not get a chance to see Tsai Shao’s romance bloom with Sherrin. At times Vaelin felt as if he wanted to take her back, but couldn’t. There should have been an underlying motivation here as well.

I think Anthony Ryan certainly put some freshness with the inclusion of fantasy China, and this is something I as a reader am always looking towards a fantasy novel, with more diverse cultures. There were many pieces of excellent dialogue, but I didn’t like the swearing as it became to cliche for me at the end. At some points, it was a big cast of characters each playing their role, so there was not much I could say for this, but I will re-read the entire series to get a better understanding. It took Ramesses the II to drive the Sea People back away and he was praised as a hero. (If he wasn’t such a big megalomanic!) Whereas with Vaelin, the conditions are the same except in a more fantasy genre setting.

Overall, this was a great book but difficult enough to get through as I had not read the previous novels. If you like battles, magic and sword fights, including a diverse fantasy culture, this novel is for you. My rating is a solid 4/5