Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Poison Throne (Moorehawke Trilogy - Book 1)

The Poison Throne (The Moorehawke Trilogy)Title: The Poison Throne
Author: Celine Kiernan
Series: Moorehawke Trilogy

Score: 4/10
How long I would stay up reading: 1am at most.
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Probable


The first thing that I'm going to say about "The Poison Throne" is that I'm not entirely sure which genre it's meant to be in. I assumed it was fantasy from the style of the cover. I continued to believe it was fantasy until It had an Italian character. In the interview with the author at the back of the book it says that it is set in Europe, although in mediaeval times. So I'm going to label it had "Historic Fantasy". It reads like a fantasy, and I believe it is at heart, but there are a few areas that overlap with the real world (The settings, and the christian followors of Jesu Christi).

Speaking of settings, the book only really has one. The royal palace/keep. Other than a brief period on the road to and from this palace at the beginning and end of the story, all of the action takes place within the grounds of the building. To me, this limited the book somewhat, as the unchanging setting made the book seem slow paced, and not in the traditional fantasy style, which is what I was expecteing. (Although as I said, I found some confusion with the Genre).

The strongest point of the novel is the characterisation of all the major characters. The characters are so well described, the relationships between them are well defined, if not explained initially, and the characteristics are believably realistic. The most moving scene, and the one with the most impact, is the first "departure" scene, where one of the main characters leaves the rest. The emotion in that scene is exquisitely written, and draws emotion from the reader. AUTHOR should be extremely proud of her characters. In some ways they are more realistic than any other characters that I remember reading, as their motives and emotions change and twist from scene to scene, particularly the King's, whilst all the time remaining true to the personality of the character. AUTHOR seems to find a way to let us see all sides of a character.

Except for Wynter and Lorcan, the main character and her father, who are undeniably good, each character has a changing and undefined place on the scale of right and wrong. None of the supporting characters are clearly defined as either, but reside in the grey area between good and evil. This again supports the realism of the novel, and while commendable, leads to confusion as to who the real antagonist is. As it is, I'm not sure.

This lack of antagonist is one of the things that contribute to the poor quality of the books plot. Essentially, the novel chronicles Wynter's time in the palace, where things have changed since she was last there. As the novel takes it's course, we don't find really find out why things have changed, although there are hints, while all the time, the palace is still changing. But there are few action scenes, or major events, and so the overall storyline is slow-paced, and towards the beginning easier to put down than I normally find fantasy books.

Having said that, The book is easy to read, and although it is easy to put down, it is also easy to pick up again. While the plot and pace of this book wasn't brillant, it is the first in The Moorehawke Trilogy, and the evidence suggest to a stronger plot and a faster pace in the next book. Despite the shortcomings of this first one, I look forwards to reading the second book, especially if it is as well written with as strong characterisation.

More Information
Main Protagonist(s): Female + male secondary protagonists
Main Antagonist(s): Unclear, but male
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Brief Synopsis: (Taken from Amazon)

A Friend. A Father. A Kingdom. Which one would you sacrifice? This compelling trilogy of court intrigue, adventure and romance is a winning combination of imagination, powerful storytelling and magnificent characters. Fifteen-year-old Wynter Moorehawke returns home after a five-year sojourn in the bleak Northlands. All has changed in her absence. Wynter is forced to make a terrible choice: stay and bow to the King's will, or abandon her ailing father and join her friend Razi and the mysterious Christopher Garron in their efforts to restore the fragile kingdom to its former stability. But this changed kingdom is a dangerous place, where all resistance is brutally suppressed and the trio constantly risk assassination, torture or imprisonment. Atmospheric and intriguing, it evokes an enchanting and convincing other world - love, treachery, jealousy, tenderness, war, wisdom and court life are all vividly depicted. Set in a fantastical medieval Europe, "The Poison Throne" is a gothic tale of intrigue, adventure and romance which draws the reader in from the very first sentence and doesn't loosen its grip until the last.

ISBN (13): 978-1847171108
Website: The Poison Throne

Amazon Link: The Poison Throne (The Moorehawke Trilogy)
Pages: 512
First Published:2008 by O'Brien Press (Ireland)
Publisher: Orbit

Succeeded By: The Crowded Shadows

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Prophecy of Zephyrus

Title: The Prophecy of Zephyrus
Author: G.A.Hesse
Series: Standalone

Score: 8/10
How long I would stay up reading: 2am
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Quite Likely (if there is one)


Where do I start? The world that Hesse creates is a wonderful to be taken to, whether by the spirit comet as Obie is, or by reading the pages of the book. I was severely disappointed when the book ended, as it meant that I would be forced to leave.

It is not a particularly described world, the author leaves much of that to the imagination. But the characters are particularly realistic, even though one consists of a talking mole, and another as a half-lion, half man. The only character I though unrealistic was a talking falcon, a minor character in the last few pages of the book. It is easy to become attached to the main female character, and we can easily understand the main characters fascination with her, as if we herself were fascinated. Through these characters we percieve the world around them, and it is through them that it comes alive.

The title refers to the prophecy that the events unfold around. While Zephyrus is not really mentioned, or explained, the prophecy is incredibly well thought out, referring to some little details that cannot be predicted until after the event. It makes me wonder if it was actually written after the rest of the book.

The beginning of the book however, is far too rushed. Until he is taken to the fantasy world, we understand little of what's going on, and an event is over short after it has begun. The matter of the nightmares and discovery of the stone, the two reasons for him goint to the other world, need to be expanded upon, and so does his main love interest, Shannon, who is barely mentioned. I would like to see a longer first part, until the comet takes him to Windermere.

But the ending is spectacular, unpredictable, and unexpected. Perhaps not the most spectacular twist, it's plausible if you consider the story in hindsight, but one of the most unexpected. And also quite satisfying. It leaves no burning questions, and few loose ends. In some ways however, it is quite an emotional end, drawing soft but real emotion from the reader as they read the closing chapter.

The artwork is stunning, and althought the title made me dubious of the story, I would recommend it as light reading. It is an easy story to pick up and get into, and doesn't mean you lose the plot when you put it down as some more complex books would. It would be an ideal book for a fantasy lover to take on journeys and holidays.

More Information
Main Protagonist(s): 3 Male
Main Antagonist(s): 1 Male
Main Relationships: Heterosexual (But Minor)
Genre: Fantasy
Brief Synopsis: (From Amazon)

17-year-old Obie Griffin knew he was a jinx. He d proven that. So why was he chosen to fulfill an old prophecy and become the Protector of the Moonpath Riders, the beautiful Gabrielle and her windlord, Mara? Whisked back to an ancient kingdom at a time when black sorcery is destroying the world, he must decide whether to remain there, or return to the safety of his own time if it still exists. When an unexpected event occurs, Obie makes a decision that hurls him into an epic journey with his horse, Shadow, and two unlikely companions. Traveling through gloomy oak forests and deadly highland blizzards, they encounter Zelda the River Witch, enemy goblins, fierce warriors spawned by black magic, and others. But the worst is yet to come, for it dawns on Obie that he must soon defend Gabrielle against the King of Darkness in a battle to save the earth---and the soul be thinks he's lost.

Website: Publisher's Page (A brilliant website for the book)
Amazon Link: UK Site (unavailable in UK store) US Site
Pages: 431
First Published: November 2009
Publisher: AHAH Books

Still testing:
I recieve comission if you go through this link. But it has a picture :-).

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Space Crime Conspiracy

Title: Space Crime Conspiracy
Author: Gareth P. Jones
Series: -


Score: 9/10
How long I would stay up reading: Well past my bedtime.
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: If there is one, I would love to read it.


I always find that the hardest part of writing a review is starting it. So those who follow my blog will have noticed that I tend to begin with the cover of the book. Now this is a fickle place to start, as new editions are often released of books, but since this book is released in just over a months time, I imaginge that that will not happen for some time.

The cover makes the book obvious as marketed at children. It has a cartoon style drawing on the front, which contains the main character, and bright writing. As an adult I've found that this would make most others wary of approaching it, and they would be wrong to take this approach. As with other books aimed at children, this is an interesting story that both adults and children can enjoy.

Obviously, as a book aimed at children, the storyline is not deeply involved, and the more technical aspects of science fiction aren't quite as described as more traditional adult novels, but the storyline is well thought out, and the ending is a huge twist which works extremely well. Most of the secondary characters are not particularly fleshed out, but since it suits the style of the book, it didn't occur to me until I had actually begun writing the review. The only character I wished I could have known more about is the girl Jupp, who seemed to give a sense of importance to the plot at first, and then seemed to become a background character.

The idea of a talking mushroom seems at first rather silly, even in fiction, but he instantly becomes a character that the reader feels a stong sense of amiability to, and when the reasons for his ability to move and talk become clear, he doesn't seem out of place at all. Indeed, some of the technology in the book is incredibly well imagined, and suggests that more thought has gone into them than is revealed in the books. They are an example of something that an adult can take from the book that it's target audience may not.

The biggest problems that I found with the book is that it is divided into two periods that are interleaved throughout the book. The main parts, set in the past, are the interesting storyline, and often amusing. The other parts however, are the present sections, and interrupt the narrative at specific points which helps to increase the tension as I expect they were meant to. The problem I found is that those parts set in the present are actually written in the present tense. In my experience, the present tense doesn't usually work well as a narrative, especially third person, and I found that this case was no different. Fortunately however, these sections were few, although the conclusion of the book is one such part, the climax is in the past.

The very last event (which occurs in the present), is quite predictable, and I find myself wondering if it is meant to point the way to a sequel, which I would undoubtedly read if it was to be written. Perhaps not a book for the die-hard Sci-Fi fan, but for those that like to dabble (especially those who like mystery) I would definitely recommend it.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): 1 Male and 1 Mushroom
Main Antagonist(s): Various
Main Relationships: None
Genre: Children's, Sci-Fi
Brief Synopsis: (from Publisher's Book Page)

Stanley has been arrested for the intergalactic crime of the century!
In prison, accused of murdering President Vorlunar, things are not looking good for Stanley. But when he is released, matters get even worse! He discovers that his assumed crime has given him not only notoriety, but value.

How can a boy who lives above a pub in south-east London cope with bounty hunters with beards on their foreheads, lawyers who specialise in Intergalactic Law, Pan-Dimensional Litigation and Criminal Prosecution, and the terrifying bird-headed space pirates, the Marauding Picaroons.

ISBN(13): 978-0-7475-9981-4
Website: Publisher's Page
Amazon Link: UK Site US Site
Pages: 311
Released: July 12th, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Note: -This amazon link is a test, and the first time I've used it. I feel I should stress that I earn comission if you use this link and buy something. If you have anything particularly against this, feel free to use the link above. - Adam

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Ambassador's Mission (Traitor Spy Trilogy - Book One)

Title: The Ambassador's Mission
Author: Trudi Canavan
Series: Traitor Spy Trilogy (Book One) or Book Four in the Kyralia Sequence


Score: 10 /10
How long I would stay up reading: Long Past Dawn
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Eagerly awaiting it's release.


Trudi Canavan's name is synonomous with quality, and with this book she doesn't fail to meet the high expectations that her previous novels have set. It would seem that she has a way with sequels that few authors possess, and makes this book at least as readable as her first. In addition to the original Black Magician Trilogy, Canavan's latest book also draws quite a lot from the Magicians Apprentice (The one-novel prequel to the BM Trilogy). This exquisite entwining of plotlines across novels is something that only a master writer acheives regularly, and Trudi Canavan is one of them.

The book itself starts rather slowly, but in a way that builds tension rather than bores the reader. After that things begin to heat up. Ceryni is a much bigger player in this book than previously, where he appeared it seemed only where needed. In this he takes one of the major viewpoints, along with returning characters Sonea and Dannyl, as well as new character Lorkin. Each of them is quite different in their own way, although Sonea/Ceryni and Lorkin/Dannyl are closer to each other than the rest. But Each of the viewpoints explores a different relationship.

Without giving too much away there is Romance; beginning and ending, Family; Lost and Found, and Alliances with old and new enemies. The way that Canavan expresses these different relatinships from different viewpoints not only brings the characters vividly off the page, but also stirs the emotions and feelings of the reader. They yearn for love. They miss their children (Even if they have none). They are confused by their old enemy. Because Sonea's relationships become the readers. Lorkin's relationships, Dannyl's and Ceryni's too.

That just the way Canavan does things. She draws the reader in until they are not just in the story, they almost live it. They are the character, whichever one it may be, They are in Imardin, or Sachaka, or wherever the narrative takes them. There is nothing lacking in this book that I can think of.

In fact, there is only one thing I can think of that is even slightly off in this latest book, which is Sonea's age. The book is set twenty years after the BM Trilogy, yet whenever I read Sonea's sections, I imagine her as the same age. That's not true of Ceryni though. But I think Sonea could do with older descriptive language ascribed to her.

I always find it difficult to write much for excellent books, and this is no different. Normally I give a "how long would I stay up reading for?" rating, since I know I personally use that as a measure of a book's worth. Now here I was going to put "dawn" as the answer. However, Since the sun isrising behind me as I write this, It is well past dawn that I would stay up reading. I hate to sound cliché, but if there is one book you read this year, make it this one.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): Three Male, One Female
Main Antagonist(s): One Female, Suspected Others
Main Relationships: Homosexual (Male) and Heterosexual
Genre: Fantasy
Brief Description: (From Wikipedia)

Sonea, former street urchin, now a Black Magician, is horrified when her son, Lorkin, volunteers to assist Dannyl in his new role as Guild Ambassador to Sachaka, a land still ruled by cruel black magicians. When word comes that Lorkin has gone missing Sonea is desperate to find him, but if she leaves the city she will be exiled forever, and besides, her old friend Cery needs her help.

Most of his family has been murdered – the latest in a long line of assassinations to plague the leading Thieves. There has always been rivalry, but for the last decade the Thieves have been waging a deadly underworld war, and now it appears they have been doing so with magical assistance . . .

ISBN: 0316037834
Website: TrudiCanavan.com
Amazon Link: UK Site US Site
Pages: 528
First Published: 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Preceeded By: The High Lord
Succeeded By: The Rogue (due 2011)