Friday, 28 May 2010

Dead Forever: Awakening

Dead Forever: AwakeningTitle: Dead Forever: Awakening
Author: William Campbell
Series: Dead Forever Trilogy (Book 1)

Succeeded By: Dead Forever: Apotheosis


Score: 5/10
How long I would stay up reading: 11-12pm
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: I would if it came my way, but I wouldn't look for it. (The cover looks exciting though...)


Where to begin? The first thing that most people see is the cover, and despite the popular adage it is normally a large part of the decision to buy a book. For a Science Fiction book, this cover has it all: A spaceship, A rather attractive young lady pointing a laser-gun type weapon and plenty of mysterious figures over a metropolis backdrop. Good Stuff. This cover however, meant that it took me a few pages to realise that the main character was male. So brilliant but misleading cover.

Now we can look inside the book. The first two chapters are confusing and quite hard to get through. For me, it took some work. Things change rapidly, confusingly, and since the main character knows nothing, neither do we. I nearly put the book down out of disinterest. My obligation to review the book however, meant that I had to continue.

Fortunately, the Book gets a lot better very quickly. As soon as the main character is rescued it get's more interesting (and funnier). The character's friends have a sort of drunken humour, which can creat an interesting mind effect when reading sober. As for Adam, the protagonist, his observations of the world around him can be highly amusing.

The author is rather good at writing sexual tension, but when emotion starts to be an issue he loses it slightly. This could be because we don't understand the feelings, Adam's returning memory makes feelings apparently come from nowhere, for a character we don't meet until the very end.

In addition, there seems to be no main objective to the plot, which weakens it somewhat, although the ending is a direct suggestion of a sequel (which does exist). I've read other reviews saying that the author tackles the subject of reincarnation well, but I disagree. Not that his ideas on the matter are well written, but that it is truly reincarnation. It's a different sort of process. I would be interested to see where the author takes it next, but for me the sequel is not a priority read.

In all, the book is entertaining and not entirely frivolous, but if you are looking for a strong plot and realistic human characters, you'll need to look elsewhere.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): Male, with mixed secondary protagonists
Main Antagonist(s): A group, gender not specified
Main Relationship(s): Heterosexual
Genre: Science Fiction
Brief Description: (from amazon)

Imagine a world where death is merely an inconvenience. A new body awaits, and we resume living, fully aware of the past. Every talent, love and distaste is retained, from one life to the next. But this immortal paradise has a price--eternal life as slaves, oppressed by masters who forbid individuality, creative expression, and free thinking. A band of rebels refuses to surrender their freedom, and these misfits have no place in a world that enforces social harmony. But for a population that reincarnates, the conformist rulers are powerless to eliminate insurgents. Putting them to death is useless. The rebels will return, again and again. The final solution is devised--perpetual amnesia. Kill all memory of past lives. Identity erased, origin unknown, and destiny uncertain, the rebels are banished to a lonely corner of the galaxy and left for dead, forever. Having suffered the enemy's amnesia by design, a reluctant hero awakens under a bridge, and without a past, he regards himself as insignificant. But he is not the loser he imagines, as he learns when agents in black come to collect him. His decision to flee begins a journey of rediscovery, but some of it he would rather leave buried. He must face his past, and take charge of the future, or the rest of his immortal kind are destined to share his fate--Dead Forever.

ISBN: 0971796025
Website: none
Amazon Link: Dead Forever: Awakening
Pages: 270
First Published: 2010
Publisher: Glyd-Evans Press

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time - Book Four)

Title: The Shadow Rising
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time

Score: 10/10
How long I would stay up reading: All Night
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Definite


This book is incredible, and that's just the least I can say. Apart from being the longest, largest book so far, it is also the best. Beyond that there are not enough superlatives to do it justice.

The biggest improvement on the previous books is the lack of a prologue. In the first three books I felt that the prologues harmed the story somewhat by being either irrelevant or confusing. The absence here is a huge benefit and means that when you read the opening paragraph you know that you are reading a wheel of time novel.

Most importantly though, is how well the independant storylines are woven around each other. Whenever the narrative moves between them it masterfully generates a sense of longing for the previous scene and excitement for the one that is upcoming. For me, no other book has managed this so acutely, so finely building suspense.

The characters, as always, are well written and developed. I personally grew quite attached to Faile (a character introduced in the last book, but more major in this one). But the three main characters truly come into their own here, especially Perrin. We learn how they see each other, and how they see themselves, which brings their character to a new depth. In particular the way each of the main three characters believe the other two to be better with women helps to tie the three men together in a way that i've never seen before in fiction.

To summarise then, this is the best book in the series so far, and one of the best out there. It does really need to be read as part of the series, but I would read the previous books as many times as i had to in order to read this one once. The Shadow Rising is brilliant, and sets an incredibly high standard for the rest in the series to meet.

More Information
Main Protagonist(s): Several Mixed
Main Antagonist(s): One Entity with Mixed Lieutenants (The Forsaken)
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Brief Synopsis: (From Amazon)

The seals of Shayol Ghul are weak now, and the Dark One reaches out. The Shadow is rising to cover humankind.
In Tar Valon, Min sees portents of hideous doom. Will the White Tower itself be broken?
In the Two Rivers, the Whitecloaks ride in pursuit of a man with golden eyes, and in pursuit of the Dragon Reborn.
In Cantorin, among the Sea Folk, High Lady Suroth plans the return of the Seanchan armies to the mainland.
In the Stone of Tear, the Lord Dragon considers his next move. It will be something no one expects, not the Black Ajah, not Tairen nobles, not Aes Sedai, not Egwene or Elayne or Nynaeve.
Against the Shadow rising stands the Dragon Reborn.....

ISBN: 1857230272
Website: US Publisher's Author Page
Amazon Link: UK Site US Site
Pages: 1046
Publisher: Orbit Books
First Published: 1992

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

NEWS: The Dearth

Recently I've had internet troubles and Exams to worry about, which have both contributed in their own special way (especially the exams) to the lack of updates towards the end of last month and beginning of this month. But both are over (famous last words), So hopefully I'll be able to update more often. Some upcoming reviews are:

Dead Forever : Awakening
The Ambassador's Mission
The Poison Throne
The Iron Hunt

Although as of yet the last three haven't arrived. If they take too long I'll have to fill in the gaps with something else...

Keep Reading,

The Sword (Chiveis Trilogy Book 1)

Title: The Sword
Author: Bryan M. Litfin
Series: Chiveis Trilogy

Score: 9/10
How long I would stay up reading: 3am
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Very


The day this book arrived was the same day that another book arrived, which I felt more obliged to read and review first. I opened the other book, and before I started reading it I had put it down and opened this one. I regret nothing.

The cover is a traditional fantasy style (two people on horses in the foregound with landscape behind). And although this may change in future editions it drew me in rather quickly. It was either that or the fact that the author told me I probably won't like it. I'm glad to say that he was wrong.

The basic premise of the story is a post nuclear apocalypse world has returned to mediaeval lifestyles, with ruins of our world dotted here and there. They worship certain gods, who the main characters come to despise, and later find to be false. Then (handily) they find a copy of the old testament which gives them a god they can believe in, and they try to bring him to the kingdom of Chiveis.

The book is simply written, with few of the deep or complex sentences commonly associated with the genre, and to avid fantasy readers it could seem inferior in that respect. But this should not be allowed to put you off reading this book. Once you get past the writing style, which I must stress is not bad, just different, the story is interesting and unique.

When the author told me that If I wasn't religous (I'm an Agnostic Atheist) I probably wouldn't enjoy the book, I was expecting christian propaganda telling me to worship god in a new format. But the story is entirely self contained, the characters never break the fourth wall, there are no notes to the reader etc. Instead the author seems to analyse the religion, considering it bit by bit from different points of view. Although the first in this series hasn't converted me, and I wouldn't want it to, It has helped me understand the christian religion more than I used to.

In addition, it is an analysis of human character and choices. With some characters believing, others not. And all in different ways. Without reading the conclusion of the trilogy we cannot know if this will continue throughout, but the world Litfin writes in seems to be both a reflection and critique of our own.

From an entertainment viewpoint, the book is filled with action, conspiracies, secret meetings, betrayals and false magics. There is some romance, which given the general idea of the book almost surprised me, and although there are no sexually explicit scenes, the subject is mentioned, and doesn't seem to be a revolting idea which is again not what I expected. The area is not the author's strongpoint however, and the story flows much better in action and political scenes. There are two major problems I found however, which continue to niggle me. The first is the main character, Teo, saying that his muscle is his religion. It seemed too out of character, and didn't work well. The second was the name of the princess Habiloho. Both of these broke the flow of the narrative, bringing me out of the almost trance-like state that one must be in to fully enjoy a book. For such a book however, these are fairly unimportant, and should not hinder the decision to buy and read the book.

It was undeniably entertaining, and it is for this reason that I would recommened, or even insist that others read it. I almost feel bad for getting this copy free, and I certaintly look forwards to the next in the trilogy. I won't say that it is one of my favourite books, but it is one of those that should be read by every fantasy lover, from christian to hindu or otherwise, For both the entertainment it brings, but also the cultural understanding it has the potential to help develop.

More Information
Main Protagonist(s): One Male, One Female
Main Antagonist(s): One Female
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Religious Fantasy
Brief Synopsis: (Taken From Website)

This novel of page-turning action and adventure poses the question, “If a society had no knowledge of Christianity, and then a Bible were discovered, what would happen?”

Four hundred years after a deadly virus and nuclear war destroyed the modern world, a new and noble civilization emerges. In this kingdom, called Chiveis, snowcapped mountains provide protection, and fields and livestock provide food. The people live medieval-style lives, with almost no knowledge of the “ancient” world. Safe in their natural stronghold, the Chiveisi have everything they need, even their own religion. Christianity has been forgotten—until a young army scout comes across a strange book.

ISBN 13: 978-1`-4335-0925-4
Website: Chiveis Online
Amazon Link: UK Site US Site
Pages: 412
Publisher: Crossway Books
First Published: 2010