The Eagle’s Flight, Daniel E Olsen

The Eagle’s Flight, Daniel E Olsen

The Eagle’s Flight: The Chronicles of Adalmearc, 1 – 3

The Eagle’s Flight tells of a troubled time in Adalmearc’s history; with an infant king on the throne, Sigvard’s line is weakened, there is insurgence among the barbarians on the far side of the Langstan wall, and powerful nobles jockey for power that rightly belongs to the throne. Rivalry is the order of the day, and there are influences within the capital of Middanhal willing to play those forces against each other, no matter the cost to the kingdom. As the net of information stretching across the kingdom trembles to the news, the Order of Adal has no choice but to try to keep the peace.

This book offers a rich and complex fantasy epic with a distinctly Nordic feel. The story’s perspectives span a kingdom, and its cast of characters reaches from the commander of the Order’s armies to a kitchen girl. Despite or because of the number of pieces in play, author Daniel E. Olsen has a masterly hand on the threads of the story. Although in some sections the level of description occasionally slows the pacing, it wasn’t enough to prevent me from enjoying the read. The characters are by and large well-developed, with plenty of depth and their own motivations, which always helps to draw me into a story, and the political backdrop of the various areas is convincingly detailed. Fans of this genre will be certain to find this a treat.

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Reviewing Myths

Reviewing Myths

Here’s the first of the reviewing myths that needs busting: there’s a surprising number of people out there who think that a review needs to be a complex essay, analysing every aspect of the author’s writing and which classical authors impacted their style.

Not so. Some people, usually book bloggers who review constantly and so have a lot of experience to draw on, may have a lot to say about a book, and that kind of detailed feedback is a precious thing to any author. However, in general terms, and certainly as far as Amazon’s algorithms go, a simple one-liner carries just as much weight as that professional review. Probably more, if the one-liner also happens to be from a verified purchaser. So don’t hold off leaving a review because you can’t think of a moving eulogy to that character that rocked your world. ‘Couldn’t put it down’ works just fine.

Another of my pet, favourite reviewing myths: The author will hate me forever if I tell them what I really think.

I’ve gotta go with Dr. Seuss here: more or less, them as matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. Getting negative feedback is part of any type of art. 99.9% of authors are not fragile flowers, and either their shoulders are broad enough to shrug it off, or, in the case of a valid point, to learn from it. The .01% that will try to start a flamedown because someone didn’t get on with their story are going to have very stressful careers. The best thing to do is touch your cap to them and walk on around.

Conversely, the ‘Ah, what’s the point? No one will notice anyway’ feeling is also more common than I’d thought. If you’re reviewing Twilight, maybe yes. If you’re reviewing pretty much anything that hasn’t hit international bestseller status, quite the contrary. The author will notice. Other people wondering whether or not to buy will notice. The website software will notice.

A book review is one place that your opinion, good or bad, cannot fail to make a difference to someone.

 

Playback Effect, Karen A Wyle

Playback Effect, Karen A Wyle

Playback Effect

Karen A. Wyle’s Playback Effect offers a new and unique slant on the world of virtual reality, one where a minority of lucid dreamers and a number of professional athletes, actors and stuntspeople record their experiences for others to buy and experience for themselves. Wynne Cantrell is one of the most successful lucid dreamers, offering a gamut of dream experiences from BDSM to butterfly gardens. Her husband, Hal Wakeman, a renowned sculptor, is frequently absent, heavily involved in his latest work and largely uninterested in Wynne’s pretensions to artistry. When Hal is late for another of their meetings, it seems unremarkable, but the consequences will have far-reaching effects on their relationship – and the virtual reality market as a whole.

Karen A. Wyle has written a fantastic blend of sci-fi, romance, and detective thriller in this book. In a world where dreams have power and the Pandora’s Box of the virtual reality world is the legal and ethical nightmare of a moment of death recording, Wynne and Hal have to work with an eclectic set of people to beat a murder charge and bring the real criminal to justice. The details of the legal and criminal procedure are thoroughly researched, and give the story a solid framework, while the characters’ personal stories weave the book into a brilliant whole. With convincing characters and a plot full of intriguing twists and turns, Playback Effect will create a vivid reading experience for a wide gamut of readers. I can’t over-recommend this story – a real page-turner.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite.

Enden, David Kummer

Enden, David Kummer

Enden: A Dark Fantasy Novel

Enden is a young-adult fantasy adventure, with its protagonist, Jonathan, a farmer’s son from a remote settlement with a talent for archery. In the aftermath of a barbarian raid on his village, Jonathan attracts the attention of the king’s grandson.

It’s a tradition of the YA genre that the rebellious but otherwise unremarkable teen rises to prominence through luck and coincidence, and Jonathan certainly fits the bill. However, the character failed to gain my sympathy; Jonathan gave me the impression of an entitled pain in the rear for most of the book, more concerned with how everything affects him than anything else that’s going on around him. I do grant that this is a stereotypical teenaged attitude, but it switched me off the character, which is a bit of an issue with a protagonist. Ideally, even an anti-hero should have something that draws a reader in, even if only horrified fascination.

The other thing that made it difficult for me to really get into this book was plausibility. The populations are small enough that gossip about one boy picked up under odd circumstances by a prominent knight can spread fast and far, but there is enough of a population for an enemy army of 100,000 or more to be gathered, trained, and equipped, and not least, supplied as they travel across the kingdom fighting. Horses were able to travel at a gallop almost indefinitely. Items like that kept pulling me out of the story.

For me, this book had some undoubted strong points, not least the fact that the text was thoroughly and competently copy-edited, but the story as a whole didn’t enthrall me.

Severance Lost, J Lloren Quill

Severance Lost, J Lloren Quill

Severance Lost

Slate ‘Stonehands’ Severance was desperate to get away from his little mining village in the mountains; so much so that when the chance to enter the tournament and try out for the Crimson Guard came up, he contravened all the customs of his village and entered the fights. However, when an accusation of magical interference was levelled against him in his final fight, Slate was forced to undergo investigation and a battery of tests – and to discover that part of his skeletal structure had been permanently transmuted. His win also earnt him the enmity of the most influential family in the city – although he had no idea of the extent that their destinies would be intertwined.

Severance Lost: A Fractal Forsaken Book is a fantasy adventure tale, focussing on Slate and his experiences with the Crimson Guard. Author J. Lloren Quill’s world-building is well-structured, with the system of vying guilds within the Crimson Guard providing some interesting sidebars to the main story, Sicarius in particular. I found that the characters and their interactions could have used more development; while the basic story was sound, some more depth in the characters would have benefited the read, and while they got to where they needed to go, I was occasionally left with the ‘Huh. Well, that was unexpectedly easy’ feeling after a key discussion. The back story fuelling current events is detailed and plausible; some breadcrumbs earlier in the plot would have alerted me that this was something worth paying attention to, whereas as it stands, it feels a little as if it was introduced as a plot wrap. Overall, the pacing was good, the magic and mayhem interacted well throughout the book, and there were some interesting plot twists.