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Friday, October 19, 2012

Two Mini Reviews: Rogues Of The Black Fury by Travis Heermann and The Colonel's Mistake by Dan Mayland

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE
Read the first three chapters HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Rogues Of The Black Fury by Travis Heermann was a book that attracted my attention for a couple of reasons namely that it seemed to be a standalone and the blurbs promised a dark adventure ride. It seems the first reason is partly wrong and the second one is absolutely correct.

The story is set in a secondary fantasy world wherein two nations Cusca and Fartha have been warring with each other for generations and now are in an uncomfortable stalemate. The world is set in a time wherein firearms have been recently invented and yet to become the primary weapon. The main character is Javin Wollstone, son of Janus Wollstone who is the most powerful general in the land of Cusca. The plot opens with Javin and his sister Bella enjoying a play and that’s when disaster strikes as men from his own unit (the Blue Dragons) abduct Bella and leave everyone shell shocked. Janus Wollstone is forced to think of the impossible and hire the company of mercenaries known as the Black Furies to find and bring back his daughter.

Captain Rusk is the leader of this team and his competency and coarseness are both legendary along with his team's exploits in the previous battles. He has though been tasked with the task of finding Bella but with a caveat that Javin join the Black Furies in this task. The story is then set as to whether Javin is successful in joining the Black Furies as well rescue Bella. This book has some strong points in regards to an action-packed plot, strong paced plot as well as some good twists.

This book has a very robust plot that is very akin to a thriller and at several moments in the book, I almost forgot that this was a fantasy book. The book has a very low-key magic role however just when you think that its not there, a plot twist or reveal occurs to remind you about its presence. This book manages to showcases a geo-political conflict that is very reminiscent of the Crusades and shows a world wherein war has sundered the lives to both sides. The book's pace is such that the reader is constantly flipping pages. Also the characterization is done decently and shows a varied cast of characters however not all of them get a chance to shine. It also has a rousing adventure story that makes for a fascinating read and also keeps the reader’s distracted from some of the drawbacks of the story.

The main drawback of the story was that the story has two sides fighting over a theological issue, which is very reminiscent of the troubles mirroring Christianity & Islam. Also the villains in this book rather closely mirror the Islamic villain stereotypes as seen in books by Brad Thor & Vince Flynn. Perhaps the author had intended to lampoon such a  stereotype showcased in most books however the villains rather are too close cut to those stereotypes for it to seem satirical. The book also doesn’t showcase much of the world’s back history and therefore is rather low on the world-building front. This perhaps was done on purpose as to help keep the book as fast paced as it is currently.

This was a fun read with a single fault for me. Perhaps for most this drawback might not be such a big point as it will depend on their individualistic perspective. I would heartily recommend Rogues Of The Black Fury to readers who want a rollicking read choc-a-bloc with pace, action and adventure. Give it a read and I think you will not be disappointed.

Official Author Website
Order the book HERE

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: This is a debut spy thriller that I read a few months ago. It’s a fresh new take on the Great Game taking place in central Asia. As with most spy thrillers, they often take the road & tropes that has been beaten to death. This book however doesn’t take that path and marks itself as a special debut.

The reason for its special nature is that it does things differently and it doesn’t have a superspy as its protagonist but one that has more in common to George Smiley than James Bond. Mark Sava is the main focus of the story and is a professor at a university in Azerbaijan. He is pulled into the main storyline when an ex-associate of his, Daria Buckingham is held as the main culprit in a murder of a US diplomat. Having a very clich├ęd beginning however doesn't detract from the overall ingenuity of the story. The author then slowly starts laying out his set pieces that make the story stand out.

Based in Azerbaijan and with the plot moving to various countries in the nearby area, the author keeps the story from becoming all too stereotypical. This story is based on the geo-political structure in the Middle East region as well as central Asia with the focus on Iran and other oil-rich countries. Having a very taut storyline that has a few twists plus with the author's background knowledge of the prevalent politics of the region makes this story a very rich one as well as an entertaining one. This story will also showcase a different side to the conflict that we often read about but don’t have a real clue about.

Characterization is another strong point as the author gives enough of a background for the main character but also gives many clues for the reader to know that Mark Sava is a cipher that is yet to be revealed completely. The side character cast besides Faria doesn't get much time and so isn't as three-dimensional as Mark & Faria. However there are a couple of side characters that I hope will get broader roles as the series progresses. Again with first books in a series, it’s a tight line that authors strive to balance and it will depend on the readers to believe whether he straddled it comfortably or not.

For all those bored with the same old CIA spy crap that involves over zealous soldiers, too-cool-to-be-true gadgetry and cardboard villains, this is the book for you. Dan Mayland writes a smart thriller that educates as well shines a clarifying light on the muddled nature of the geo-politics involved in oil-rich central Asia. This was another debut that stood simply because of the different path taken by the author in regards to a spy thriller story. Do yourself a favor and do not miss this one as I will be eagerly awaiting The Leveling (second book of the Mark Sava series) to see what the author has in store for us and his characters.


Bryce L. said...

Thanks for the reviews, I've been really looking at Rogues lately and may have to give it a go. I really can't say no to any degree of swashbuckling.

Mihir said...

Hi Bryce

Yeah I would very much recommend it as it's a very fast & dark(-ish) story. Would definitely love to read a follow-up on it as well.


Travis Heermann said...

Thanks for the great review! I have ideas for subsequent books in the Rogues universe, but it depends a lot on reader response when I might tackle those.

Travis H.

The Reader said...

Hi Travis

I think a sequel is a very viable option considering the way this book ends. I would love to know more about the world & its backstory. Thanks for stopping by :)


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