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BLACKGUARDS: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues — Only 7 days left!

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ROGUES. ASSASSINS. MERCENARIES.

Coin is their master, and their trade, more often than not, is blood. Something about these nefarious types appeals to the fantasy reader. Perhaps it is that they have abandoned the moral set that dictates what is socially acceptable in our world. In these tales, we live vicariously, intrepidly, and by our blades or our wits or a culmination of both to some degree. These are BLACKGUARDS.

If you haven’t already heard, Blackguards is the new anthology being put together by the guys over at Ragnarok Publications; the same people who did the Kaiju rising anthology. Their Kickstarter has only a week left, and they’ve already raised $27,000; when their original goal was $14,500. That is, as of me writing this post, they’re over185% funded. If that alone doesn’t speak for the anthology, check out their lineup, and take a look at their Kickstarter, using the link at the bottom of this post.

Their lineup includes stories by:

  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Shawn Speakman
  • Django Wexler
  • Carol Berg
  • Richard Lee Byers
  • Anthony Ryan
  • John Gwynne
  • Tim Marquitz
  • Jon Sprunk
  • Snorri Kristjansson
  • Paul S. Kemp
  • David Dalglish
  • Lian Hearn
  • James Enge
  • Peter Orullian
  • Joseph R. Lallo
  • Cat Rambo
  • Anton Strout
  • Laura Resnick
  • Mark Smylie
  • Kenny Soward
  • Jean Rabe

They also have opening for 1-2 others! You can join this amazing lineup by checking out their open submissions.

They’ve got a fantastic lineup, and a lot of great backer rewards to choose from. Take a look, check it out, and you’ll be sure to find something that interests you! They just unlocked their t-shirt add-on stretch goal as well!

Find their Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089607742/blackguards-tales-of-assassins-mercenaries-and-rog

Remember, there’s only one week left. Get in before it’s too late!

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in RLovatt

 

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Rise of the King: Companion Codex, II by R.A. Salvatore : Review

Rise of the King

In the second book of the Companions Codex, the latest series in the New York Times best-selling saga of dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden, R.A. Salvatore picks up with the fan-favorite storyline of dwarf king Bruenor Battlehammer and his bloody feud with the Orc kingdom of Many Arrows.

 

Rise of the King: Companion Codex, II is the newest book set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting by New York Times best-selling author R.A Salvatore and the twenty sixth book featuring the Drow hero Drizzt Do’Urden. I am glad that I had previously read the rest of the Drizzt books before I started to read this, Salvatore seems to make an assumption that everyone has read the rest of his books, and not a lot of background info is given. I believe anyone who tries to use this book as a starting off point for the series will be utterly confused. I would recommend that anyone who hasn’t read the previous set of books in the series before attempting to jump into the Companion Codex, I think it will make the books more enjoyable by far.

Only a few years may have passed for us since the events of the Hunter’s Blades trilogy, but for Drizzt and the Companions of the Hall it has been more than a century in the Realm. After the events of Night of the Hunter, Drizzt and the Companions are finally on the road back to Longsaddle in an attempt to see the former battlerager Thibbledorf Pwent freed from his curse and finally laid to rest. It is not long however before the Companions hear of rumors of orc raids upon the human and dwarf settlements in the Silver Marches. The Companions soon find themselves returning to Mithril Hall to find out if the treaty of Garrumns Gorge has really been broken, and to decide what that means for them.

There is so much that I enjoyed about this book that it’s really hard for me to not spoil anything for anyone planning to read the book but I will do my best. First there is the fact that finally Drizzt is back among those friends who understand and love him best, who may be able to draw him away from the dark path he was heading down. I truly started to worry about Drizzt in the Neverwinter Saga, those were dark days for him that I worried he might not come back from. There is the return of the eccentric Harpell family who are always good for a laugh and leave you wondering about the sanity of wizards in general. I thought the anticipation of the Companions return to the Silver Marches and Mithril Hall would kill me, the entire course of the book I wanted to skip forward just to see how people would react to the return of the dead king Bruener Battlehammer. There were even the return of some characters I love that I thought wouldn’t make an appearance in the world again.

One of the best parts of the book, like any book by R.A. Salvatore, were the battle scenes. You can tell how much research and effort goes into each fight, you can almost feel like you are there each and every time. While initially this may come across as just another Forgotten Realms book, I felt like it really stood out from anything set in the campaign that has released in the last few years.

The only complaint I have is how short it seemed to me, but every book I read seems short by the time I finish it. I once again made the mistake of starting to read a chapter or two of the book when I went to lie down for bed. Almost seven hour later, after I realized it was almost six in the morning, I had to force myself to put down the book and get some sleep before work. While this happens to me a lot I will honestly say it doesn’t happen with a book that I don’t think is worth the lack of sleep. I am already counting the days till book three releases and thinking of a reread just days after I finished going through it the first time.

This is definatley a book for anyone who enjoyed the Forgotten Realms, and I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t read anything in the series yet do so!

Rise of the King is set to be released September 30th by Wizards of the Coast.

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black : Review

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From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will — is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It’s a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

Magisterium: The Iron Trial is the first book in a new series by bestselling authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. Although I’ve never read anything by Cassandra Clare, I’ve been a fan of Holly Black’s ever since I’d first read the Spiderwick Chronicles, and I’ve had high hopes for this series since I first heard about it. I’m glad I can finally say I was not disappointed in the wait. The Iron trial is the perfect start to what is already shaping up to be a great series, and I’m more than glad I was able to read it early. It was good enough that I may finally break down and read the books written by Cassandra Clare that I have been hemming and hawing over for years now. There really wasn’t much for me to dislike in the book, it had just about everything I enjoy in a YA or Middle Grade book.

First off there is what really makes the book stand apart from other books in the same genre, and its the characters. It doesn’t seem to matter whether its the main character Callum or a character who doesn’t appear for more than once scene, each one seems fleshed out with their own back story and goals. I found myself becoming really attached to each character that’s introduced who stays more than just a single scene. Even the bad guys have something about them that makes you almost want to root for them to win instead of Callum and his friends. I only wish we had gotten some better insights into just who and what the Master’s were, I get a feeling they are much more important to the story than they seem from what we get to see of them

The world itself seems to be an alternate version of earth, and I can’t tell if magic is hidden from the majority of the populace, or its just so well accepted its not commented on. This series seems like its going to be a little bit darker than your average middle grade or young adult series, and I find myself loving it even more because of this. I’ve seen a lot of people criticizing this book already for its similarities to the Harry Potter series and I find myself a bit confused. Other than the fact that it’s about a couple boys and a girl going to a secret magic school, I see no similarities between the two series. I really hope people won’t let such small similarities stop them from reading a great book.

The only thing that I didn’t really like about the book was the pacing, I felt like they rushed to much through their training to really give anyone an idea of what it means to be a mage in their world. Other than that the the plot was interesting with many unforeseen twists and turns, the characterization was way above par when compared to similar books, and most importantly to me it was really well written.

I would rate this book up there with the Percy Jackson or Ranger’s Apprentice series, all books I read and reread on a yearly basis. I don’t think there are many people who read similar books who will not love The Iron Trial. I know that I at least, am already eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

Magisterium: The Iron Trial is set to be released in the US on September 9th by Scholastic.

The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium) is set to be released in the UK on September 11th by Random House.

I received a free copy of this novel for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Review

 

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Compilation of ALS Ice Bucket Challenges Completed by authors

For those who have been living under a rock for the past week or so, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a challenge to dump a bucket of ice on yourself. Once you’ve done so, you nominate three others to take up the challenge themselves. However, it’s not just doing it for the sake of doing it. The intent is to promote awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and to encourage donations to fund research and support. More information can be found here. (Link leads to ALS US, additional links have been included at the bottom of the post.)

There’s been no shortage of well-known people who have taken up the challenge, such as Sir Patrick Stewart, George Takei, Bill Gates, The Foo Fighters, and dozens of others. However, I’ve decided to round up videos from authors who have accepted the challenge.I know there’s likely quite a few that I’m missing, feel free to let me know of any, and I’ll add them to the post.

Patrick Rothfuss

Tad Williams (not on Youtube, it’s a Facebook video)

George R. R. Martin

Neil Gaiman

Brandon Sanderson

Jim Butcher

Stephen King

Alex Bledsoe

Dan Wells

Chuck Wendig

Hugh Howey

Pierce Brown

What’s been your favourite one so far? Any that I’m missing and need to be added? Let me know!


ALS Global

ALS Canada (English)

ALS Canada (French)

MND Association (England, Wales, Northern Ireland)

MND Scotland (Scotland)

Stichting ALS Nederland (Netherlands)

The ALS League of Belgium/ALS Liga België (Belgium)

Asociación ELA/EMN (Spain)

Asociación Española de Esclerosis Lateral Amiotrófica (ADELA) (Spain)

ALS-Vereinigung (Switzerland)

MND Australia

MNDA (New Zealand)

Associazione Italiana Sclerosci Lterale Amiotrofia (AISLA ONLUS) (Italy)

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in RLovatt, Uncategorized

 

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Shifting Shadows: Stories From the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs : Review

Shifting

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger…

Normally I am not a big fan of anthologies as I find myself unable to enjoy them when one story ends just as it starts to get interesting, but this one really stands out from the others I have read.

Shifting Shadows is an urban fantasy anthology set in the world of preternatural shapeshifter Mercy Thompson. There was not a single story in this anthology that I did not enjoy in some way. When a series of books is written in the first person, its makes the short stories told from the perspective of someone else. We get a really good look at some characters who are only briefly mentioned in the main books in the series, and some insights into the lives of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about writing this, so I just decided I will go through and write a small little review for each story in the order they appear in the book. I did my best to keep any actual spoilers out of them while still giving my impression of each one.

Silver:

Silver tells the origins of Bran and Samuel becoming werewolves and an explanation of sorts as to where werewolves originally came from. We also get a glimpse into the early life of Ariana and the ill fated romance between her and Samuel. Though a time period is not given as to when this story is set, its obviously a very long time before Moon Called takes place, and gives a pretty good idea how long a werewolf can live. It was really interesting to see the origins of a number of characters who only get small amounts of screen time in the main series, as well as what’s probably the origins of the werewolves themselves.

Fairy Gifts:

This story is interesting in that it tells a story in two alternating timelines, the year 1900 in Butte Montana, and present day Butte Montana. I found myself enjoying this quite a bit, despite the fact that it’s told from the viewpoint of a character only seen briefly in the Mercy Thompson book Frost Burned. We get a good look at what it means to be fledgling vampire and what abilities you get after you’re turned. I found myself disappointed that it ended so fast, and hoping we see more of Thomas Hao, he seems like a unique vampire who’s owed his own story.

Gray:

This was a really sad and melancholy story, almost a little to much for my taste. In this one we get to see the regret and depression of a female vampire who has returned to her former home in an attempt and live on her own without a seethe.

Seeing Eye:

Wendy Moira is a good witch, something not often seen in a world where witches gain their power through the mutilation and suffering of others. Tom is a werewolf intent on freeing his mundane brother from a coven of black witches. Together they might be enough to do it and survive. What made this story the most interesting for me is it gives us a good look at the inner workings of witchcraft and gives you a good idea that you do not want to get on the bad side of anyone with witchblood in their veins!

Alpha and Omega:

This is by far my favorite short story in the entire anthology, and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. Alpha and Omega takes place during the events of Moon Called and fills in a lot of the plot holes from it that have been bothering me for a few years now. It tells the story of how Anna Latham and Charles Cornick met, while explaining what started the chain of events leading up to Moon Called. Anna is probably my favorite character from the anthology and it’s interesting to see a new type of werewolf I don’t remember being mentioned before, an omega. I will definitely be buying Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega series in the next few day, I can only hope its as good as this short story was.

The Star of David:

This was probably my least favorite story of the anthology, mainly because it’s supposed to be a Christmas story about werewolves, and I hate Christmas stories. When I try and do my best to forget its a Christmas story it’s pretty enjoyable and tells the story of the army ranger turned werewolf, turned werewolf mercenary David Christiansen who appeared in Moon Called. The most enjoyable part of this story for me was how believable David’s conflict of what he is, and who its made him become.

 Roses in Winter:

This story is a good example of why I really love this anthology, it’s always get a glimpse into the life of a character only briefly mentioned in the main series, or more detailed dynamics of being a werewolf. Roses in Winter tells the story of Kara Beckworth a thirteen year old girl briefly mentioned in Blood Bound as having been turned into a werewolf. She’s now become the Marrok’s newest problem to solve, as a young girl unable to control her wolf is a danger to both herself and all werewolves. This book gives some really interesting insight into the laws that the Marrok has laid down to protect all the werewolves, and why they are necessary to uphold. It also gives us a decent look into what happens to a werewolf who has been alive for centuries and is nearing the end of his expected life span.  All in all this this is up there with Alpha and Omega on my list of favorites from this book.

In Red, With Pearls:

I don’t quite know what I think of this one, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but afterwards I couldn’t quite figure out why. Not a whole lot really happens in it, and what little action there is just kind of bored me. The only thing I liked about it was learning that zombies exist in the world of Mercy Thompson.

Redemption:

I struggled getting more than a few paragraphs into this story at first, it throws a lot of tech jargon at you in the beginning which kind of threw me out of the story. I found it quickly got better though, and we got a good look into what makes Ben the werewolf tick.

Hollow:

I don’t know why it surprised me that Mercy Thompson didn’t make an appearance till the very end of the anthology, I should have expected that to be the way it would be. This story has about everything you can expect from a Mercy Thompson story. There are werewolves, shifters and ghosts, not to mention Mercy taking her usual mental and physical beating. While this was of course a great story, as any story featuring Mercy would have to be, I found my mind wandering a bit while reading at certain points. Mercy is much more suited to full length novels.

 

I suggest anyone who is a fan of the Mercy Thompson or Alpha and Omega books buy this book, it fills in a lot of gaps in them both, and I know I’ll be adding it to my collection when it releases. In fact, I hope anyone who reads this is encouraged to go out and read all the other books by Patricia Briggs set in the same world, she is quite an author and I know I’m more than looking forward to her next book.

Shifting Shadows is set to be released September, 2nd by Ace

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 


Check out RLovatt’s interview with Patricia Briggs on the ArchedDoorway here.

 

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Review, SJardine

 

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