Sky Road Walker, S. M. Carrière

Sky Road Walker, S. M. Carrière

Sky Road Walker

He wakes up with no memory, in the middle of nowhere, with the only clue to his origins the fact that he can walk the mystical Sky Road. Falling face-first into the riptide of political intrigue surrounding the empty throne of the Empire, the Sky Road Walker, as he becomes known, is faced with choices at every turn; choices that can bring unimaginable rewards or terrible fates. With no context and no memory, he makes them as best he can, relied upon by the powerful leaders of the Empire’s factions to advise them and make these decisions.

Sky Road Walker is a most enjoyable epic fantasy from author S. M. Carrière, featuring the well-loved fantasy themes of a usurped throne, a hidden heir, and a dangerous quest for a magical artifact. The world-building is solid and detailed, giving the plot a strong background, and the magic is never portrayed as an easy way out, which was a relief. Overall, the only implausible element was that the man with amnesia was at every turn, expected to make the choices on behalf of the leaders of armies and countries. While the plot turned around it, and the writing was plenty good enough to rate four stars anyway, that was the element that had me asking ‘…but why on earth…?’ all the way through. Despite that, I would recommend this read unhesitatingly to fans of fantasy – it’s a very good, well-written read.

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis, Colin Knight

Bad Analysis

Craig Wilson works for Canadian Intelligence, a loner whose work is too good to allow him to be retired while his frequently divergent opinions make him unpopular with his bosses. However, when the brewing of a new terror crisis in the slums of Europe sends vibrations through the webs of the international intelligence community, Wilson’s instincts are triggered. The death of an old friend in British Intelligence, and an uncharacteristically cryptic message left behind him only strengthen Wilson’s feeling that there’s something very far amiss – but will he be able to unravel it in time to avert a tragedy?

Bad Analysis is an excellently-paced spy thriller, hitting all the right notes of intrigue, duplicity, and desperation. The protagonist is sufficiently flawed to be credible, and the case is convincingly built on a series of tiny details, luck, and hunches. The conflict between the politic aspirations of Wilson’s bosses and the very real danger posed by their myopia is an especially nice touch. Unfortunately, the stellar plotting and story of this book was badly undermined by the technical aspects of the writing, especially in the punctuation. This is the kind of book that would easily hit five stars if not for the fact I had to stop on multiple occasions to figure out where the comma should have gone, and what the most likely meaning of the phrase had been intended to be.

Descendant, Jeffrey A Levin

Descendant, Jeffrey A Levin

Descendant

Jeffrey Levin’s Descendant is a YA sci-fi story, set in the 24th century and centred around Michael Eisenstein, the youngest member of a family employed and cosseted by the US government for generations due to their ability to develop bigger, better, and more lethal toys.

Structurally, the story appears to follow Michael’s train of thought, with a tight, first-person focus, and a conversational style of prose. While the ambling, random track the story takes is an effective representation of the average person’s stream of consciousness and idiosyncratic observational skills, I found that as a reader it made the story a little incoherent in some areas. Because of those personal asides and sometimes abrupt switches from minute detail to broad description, staying absorbed in the book was a challenge for me. Major plot items also enter and exit the story’s stage with a seeming lack of announcement, with important figures introduced three-quarters of the way in and key antagonists removed from the field with very little fanfare or input from our hero.

I felt that the book had a number of strong points in its basic plot, and the underlying idea promises an interesting story, but it needed a little more work on breaking out the story elements, refining the track of the plot and the pacing,, and eliminating some of the unnecessary pieces to allow those strengths to be recognised.

Reviewed for Knockin’ Books.

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