Review: Flames over Frosthelm (Inquisitors’ Guild #1)

Rating: 9/10

Book Information:

Flames Over Frosthelm by Dave Dobson
Series:
Inquisitors’ Guild
Genre:
Epic Fantasy
Intended Age Group:
Adult (13+)
Pages: 383
Published:
2019
Publisher:
Dave Dobson Books (Self Published)

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Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on page:

  • Occasional gore
  • Sword fighting
  • Injury
  • Two scenes where captives are caused pain by captors

Alluded to:

  • One comment about possible sexual harassment of a prisoner

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Book Blurb:

Sometimes, your case takes a left turn. Or three or four. Marten Mingenstern and Boog Eggstrom are provisional inspectors, fresh out of Inquisitor’s Guild training and eager to prove themselves. Assigned the mundane task of tracking down stolen jewels, they instead uncover a mysterious cult set on destroying the city. After a thief explodes, they earn the enmity of a vicious noble, the Chief Inquisitor gets bought off and goes rogue, they are seized by barbarians, and they are sentenced to death at least a couple of times. In a final, frantic race with prophecy, they face ruthless fanatics, a city turned against them, and terrible forces long buried.

Flames Over Frosthelm is the first novel about the Inquisitor’s Guild, the investigative arm of the government of Frosthelm, a medieval city-state where criminals thrive, nobles scheme, and dark secrets lurk. Expect intrigue, mystery, swordplay, adventure, politics, romance, and the strong bonds of friendship. And a little magic along the way. Described as Princess Bride meets CSI, this new novel is a tale of classic adventure with a healthy dose of humor.

Review:

Flames Over Frosthelm is a dark novel with gritty crime and a bustling underworld. Now from this description, you’d think it’s Cyberpunk or Sci-fi? Well no. It isn’t. Dave Dobson has set this new criminal world in a fantasy age of a medieval city-state that really, let’s be honest isn’t that great to deal with or even live in. Frosthelm’s a great city, sure. But underneath? It’s got more mysteries than anything else. It does live up to the comparisons made, however.

There is plenty of humour, as Boog and Martin discover that not everything they thought the city was shines up to be a paragon of justice. That’s the case of working in any state or institution. Corruption lies at the bottom of all this. I don’t want to spoil the story. But what I can say is Boog and Martin end up in so many conflicts, uncovering treachery after treachery that it becomes a search for the truth. This novel is a great mix of action and humor and stupid snarky cults that always want to manipulate the masses. (I am beginning to think they just want their way after all).

As the story goes, there are many twists and turns, plenty of well-written dialogue and well-written prose. It’s a fun story and I for one loved the way it was written. I wonder what else Book 2 will conjure up? This book combines a lot of astrology and magic, which astrology itself? I don’t know if I could ever learn it. But it is nice to see. The worldbuilding is immersive enough to make you forget the real world for that matter. I say, it’s a great novel and you need to check it out!

Book Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bOJaOK (audio and print accessible here)

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T12STNY

Amazon Series Page: https://www.amazon.com/Inquisitors-Guild/dp/B087JHYHSB

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53099866-flames-over-frosthelm

Free Inquisitors’ Guild novella: https://books2read.com/u/bQV9xE

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Author Bio & Information:

A native of Ames, Iowa, Dave loves writing, reading, boardgames, computer games, improv comedy, pizza, barbarian movies, and the cheaper end of the Taco Bell menu. Also, his wife and kids.

In addition to his novels, Dave is the author of Snood, Snoodoku, Snood Towers, and other computer games. Dave first published Snood in 1996, and it became one of the most popular shareware games of the early Internet. His most recent project (other than writing) is Doctor Esker’s Notebook, a puzzle card game in the spirit of escape rooms.

Dave taught geology, environmental studies, and computer programming at Guilford College for 24 years, and he does improv comedy every week at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, North Carolina. He’s also played the world’s largest tuba in concert. Not that that is relevant, but it’s still kinda cool.

Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FlamesOverFrosthelm

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaveDobson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GCDaveDobson

Author Website: http://davedobsonbooks.com

Review: Age of Ash (Kithamar #1) by Daniel Abraham

Rating: 9/10

From New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author Daniel Abraham, co-author of the Expanse, comes a monumental epic fantasy trilogy that unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, where every story matters, and the fate of the city is woven from them all.

Kithamar is a centre of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold. This is Alys’.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

‘An atmospheric and fascinating tapestry, woven with skill and patience’ – Joe Abercrombie, author of A Little Hatred

‘This outstanding series debut… instantly hooks readers with dual mysteries… Readers will eagerly anticipate the sequel’ – Publishers Weekly

‘Kithamar is a spectacular creation, a city brought to life by dance, intricate worldbuilding and subtle magic. Fans of Scott Lynch… will enjoy this one’ – Django Wexler, author of Ashes of the Sun

Review


Something stirs dark in the Heart of Kithimar itself. An abandoned sister seeking revenge for the loss of her brother, a man that was respected in his community. Murderous Princes vie for the throne of Kithimar, and priestesses, monks and figured shadows all have a role to play in this world of treachery and deceit. Another woman makes her own path throughout this novel. This novel is a bit of a slow burn, but when it picks up the pace, it becomes really good.

Summarising this plot would take some time. But the gist is, that Allys embarks on a journey that changes her forever. It exposes the rot of Kithimar’s rich nobility, and that their ideas and ideals of the order are nothing more than devices meant to hold them forever in their power. Corruption runs deep in this city. I was impressed by Daniel’s ability to include a ton of worldbuilding for each region of the city that I went into. Be it Longhill, Greenhill and many such locations. I think this novel would have benefited from a glossary – which would be very helpful for the locations and names of other cities. There is a rich array of characters, a rich display of action, and sometimes, even fantastic moments of prose that is hard to replicate anywhere else.

What I liked about this novel the most is that each character has their own motives and their own agendas. And it doesn’t need to contrast with Allys’s personality. However, I did sometimes end up disliking Allys purely because her quest to discover the truth behind her brother’s murder lead her into dark avenues that made her eviler than anything else. But she is young, and at that age, grief can drive any person mad. Sammish was a terrific character that often was far more opportunistic, making her own moves, and driving the story forward. This story is so rich, deep, and complex that at times I am amazed it is has been amazingly written. Really, this is a great novel.

Review: The Engineer (A Chronicles of Actaeon Story #1) by Darran M Handshaw (Escapist Book Tours)

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The Engineer: A Chronicles of Actaeon Story eBook : Handshaw, Darran M:  Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Book Blurb:

“We are born in the shadow of fading memories and fallen dreams, living our days within the decaying bones of an age long gone.”

When the Engineer, Actaeon, arrives at Pyramid in the heart of Redemption, nothing goes according to plan. Mysterious raiders pursue him relentlessly across the shattered remains of the ancient metropolis, and the leaders of his homeland pay no heed to his ambitious ideas. Meanwhile, deep beneath Pyramid, a deadly creature stirs. And, when Actaeon meets a skilled young Knight Arbiter with brilliant blue eyes, he starts down a path he could never have imagined.

The vast, fallen city of the Ancients is home to a new people who face the constant struggle to find resources needed to survive in the dangerous ruins. For the Engineer, however, Redemption is a treasure trove of technology, opportunity, and answers. But his unique skills make him a target for those who would use his talents to achieve their own dreams of power and control.

In his endless quest for the truth, will Actaeon discover the fallen city’s greatest secrets? Or will he share the same fate as the Ancients of whom nothing remains but a whisper?

One thing is certain: in Redemption, everything comes with a cost.

Book Information:

The Engineer by Darran Handshaw
Series:
Chronicles of Actaeon
Genre:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, LitRPG (based on events in a game)
Intended Age Group:
Adult
Pages: 600
Published:
2017
Publisher:
Self-Published (The Engineer’s Press)

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Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on Page:

  • Violent Battle Scenes
  • Gore
  • Child Death

Review

8/10

Thank you to Escapist Book Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour!

This is a great and terrific book with hints of dystopian fiction. The Engineer is quite a big medium that focuses on many aspects of fiction, it is on the one hand, fantasy. It is on the other, sci-fi. At times it gives me a Han Solo Vibe, and during the other, it can revert to a more archaic fantasy style that you’re more familiar with. This is Hungar Games mixed with Wheel of Time in a way. Just in terms of events and such. I like many parts of this novel, and there are some parts I think could have been improved upon. For a 700 page book, this is a worthy story to sink down and get immersed into a new world. I didn’t find a glossary which would have helped a lot, as sometimes the worldbuilding became a little confusing for me, but that was because a glossary for me would have helped.

Some scenes could have been shorter, and some parts of the story could have been thinner on a scale. Given that this is the first book, it happens as this novel does a good job of introducing the world to you. That’s what a first book does in a trilogy. And the world-building is exceptionally good. You do get to feel for nations and characters, you do get to see different identities, and it very much plays out in the style of a video game in many respects. This is, after all, a new world in which the Engineer finds himself in. This is his story. And you experience all that he has to offer.

Though I was initially confused with the Engineer. On the one hand, he’s a great orator, a man of humble words, someone that gets what he wants. He can charm, he can convince, he can get people to like him. But on the other he becomes a character of profession and knowledge, and that contrast somehow wasn’t developed well enough. At times he would turn into a Jack Sparrow roguish figure. So I would have wanted a more clearer personality in my opinion. But it is still an amazing novel, and it has all the elements of a great book. The opening chapter itself reminded me of Uncle Iroh being escorted by Earth Kingdom Guards, and well, that’s a clue. Overall, it’s an epic story that you have to read! I would 100% recommend this!

Book Links:

The Engineer: http://getbook.at/engineer

The Machine in the Mountain (part of the Quantum Soul Anthology): http://getbook.at/quantum

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Author Bio & Information:

Darran M. Handshaw is the author of The Engineer – his debut novel. In addition to writing, Darran works as an R&D Engineer where he designs and invents new products and holds more than 20 patents. In his spare time, Darran is also a firefighter and EMT with his local fire department where he was recently elected as Assistant Fire Chief. When Darran isn’t writing, inventing things, or responding to emergencies, he enjoys his time with his wife, Stefanie, and son, Corwin.

Facebook: Fb.me/ActaeonRellios
Twitter:
twitter.com/Engineer7601
Goodreads:
goodreads.com/TheEngineer
Amazon Author Page:
amazon.com/author/engineer

Review: Disappearance of a Scribe by Dana Stabenow (Eye of Isis #2)

‘Stabenow brings Alexandria’s Hellenistic period to life… She is now as much at home in ancient Egypt as she is in the Alaskan wilderness’ Publishers Weekly ALEXANDRIA, 47 BC.

Cleopatra – seventh of her name, avatar of the goddess Isis, ruler of the Kingdom of Egypt – watches over her city. The war is over, but Alexandria, that once great beacon of learning and commerce, has suffered in its wake. Caesar has returned to Rome, and the queen must restore her city and her kingdom to their former greatness.

But now a body has been found floating upright at the bottom of the sea, anchored in place by a cement weight around its feet. It’s the second corpse to be found this way in two years, and the queen is concerned.

With a city to rebuild and a kingdom to keep in line, Cleopatra cannot allow any more murders to interfere. So she sets Tetisheri – her Eye, her closest confidant and personal investigator – to make things right. As she delves deeper into the mystery, Tetisheri will discover secrets, conspiracy and danger far beyond her ken…

‘Stabenow is blessed with a rich prose style and a fine eye for detail. Outstanding’ Washington Post

‘A first-rate talent… offering fine writing and keen humour’ Booklist

‘Gripping and adrenaline-charged… Surprising twists all delivered with Stabenow’s razor-sharp suspense and gritty prose’ Publishers Weekly

Review:

The disappearance of a Scribe is a vivid insight into the story of the Eye of Cleopatra, Tetisheri investigating the missing body of a young man, a scribe perhaps that had potential. Who or what this man was, I shall leave it to you to figure out. This is a fantastic book for worldbuilding in many ways, as it brings alive the Hellenistic World in a way that is often left out to mainstream readers. Alexandria in Cleopatra’s time was one of the most vibrant cities of all time and was a cultural gateway connecting Romans, Greeks and other neighbours from different kingdoms. It was also the time of political warfare, espionage and Roman incursion that was ever-increasing into the Ptolemaic Kingdom as of this time.

You will experience a totally different world and through the eyes of Tetisheri, you will meet characters that although maybe thousands of years old to us, are actually just as common as those of us that live in the 21st century. Many times I was taken back by the vivid description of the Alexandrian city, as it provides much of the backdrop of the story. Tetisheri has to deal with many vibrant characters, some that are jealous, some that are conniving, and some that plan to get rid of her. What she uncovers, is a more sinister plan. Or is it really? Does the pursuit of corruption drive good men and women to cause evil acts? This is also a question worth asking.

I shall not reveal the plot, as this is an investigative crime thriller set in the Ancient World and I welcome such novels! We need more of this, and this book reminds me a lot of Colleen McCullough’s novels. Great writing, great delivery, and great score. I really enjoyed my time with this book and can’t wait to read more of this wonderful novel.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Servant Mage (#1) by Kate Elliot

Rating: 8.9/10

Fellian is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellian has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

In Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage, a lowly fire mage finds herself entangled in an empire-spanning conspiracy on her way to discovering her true power.

Review:

Servant Mage is a look into the idea that maybe sometimes serving one side of the cause, and the other only proves one thing: That sometimes fighting for a cause is merely serving the cause of others. And those higher-ups that control and manipulate the force in power vs the force in opposition are merely playing both sides. Controlling, manipulating, and outsourcing information that the people, i.e the peasants, the public whatever name you can call them will never know. I like this smart commentary that this book takes. It’s a very apt understanding. This is because Fellian comes to recognise that the entire fight between the Monarchists and the Liberationists lead to no good outcome.

Like there is a balance between Good and Evil, each side is convinced that their cause is righteous. It is in these moments when you take a step away from the conflict to examine both viewpoints that you realise this is a morally grey situation. One side does evil at the expense of claiming to be good. The other does well at the expense of claiming to be evil (it could happen) This has many historical comparisons. I love that this book is a philosophical debate in my opinion. I really enjoyed the book, the way it was written and the way it was paced. It does keep you engaged. That being said, I think some simpler definitions of the afterlife and a little less on the concepts would have made the story even better.

Fellian interacts with a lot of well-rounded characters that do enhance her personality. But I often feel they come up as more to counter her personality alone, rather than compliment it. In book 2, I would prefer that the characters have more of their own goals rather than trying to guide her too much. Because while we get a sense of her personality emerging, it’s not rounded enough. But this is something that happens in fantasy books in a trilogy, in the first book, your character isn’t going to be superb at everything. It’s okay to take a step back. Fellian is, however, smart enough to realise how the situation plays around her and uses it to her advantage. But I want more of her personality is what I’m saying at the end.

This was a very well written novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to Tor/Macmillian Forge for allowing me to review this. All thoughts are my opinion only

Filed Under: DemonsFantasyFictionParanormal FantasySurvivalistSword and SorceryTagged With: ElliotKateTor BooksTor USTor USm