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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spotlight on Three Independent Titles: Elizabeth Hill, Doug Dandrige and Andy Monk (with comments by Liviu Suciu)

"Doesn't she know you can't do real magic alone?"

Freshly graduated from the Voleno Academy, Faylanna Derrion is trying to find her solitary place in a world where she and her fellow Magicia are expected to find their magical partner as soon as possible. When her mentor and his partner are taken by a terrible darkness before her eyes, her flight to find help brings Tavis into her life.

Can she learn to see him as more than a simple farmer or will she accede to her father's demands to return to her family's home, following a path others have laid out for her? Can she choose her own course, after a lifetime of refusing to bind herself to anyone.

The debut of the series titled The Mirrors of Bershan, Bound by J. Elizabeth Hill attracted my attention with a blurb that is more personal than the usual "evil is rising and only the super dee duper hero/heroine/combination thereof who do/do not/maybe know they are so destined can save the world as everyone knows it" and also by lacking any mention of dragons, elves, goblins, vampires, ghosts etc.

There is the "terrible darkness" true but the sample I checked was intriguing, while the narrative flowed well so I decided to give it a serious try. Expect a report and/or a review here in a few weeks! In the meantime you can check 20% of the novel at the following  Smashwords link.

Edit 11/27/12 I actually finished Bound last night in one continuous reading session as it is a fast paced novel that makes one keep turning the pages; highly recommended and a full review in a week or two.

For now I will note that the novel ends at a good stopping point with promise of a lot to come - the big picture in other words just starts coming into focus, while the novel's main storyline is solved more or less, though of course this leads to deeper questions.

As content I would say that the Collegia Magica series by Carol Berg is a good reference, while as style Paula Brandon's (Volsky) recent trilogy is a good comparison. The next book in the series is of high interest as I want to see where things go!


Humanity's worst nightmare has again come out of the Dark. Can a human race in turmoil survive?

When the human race faces extermination at the hands of an expanding species the last survivors travel a thousand years to reestablish the race ten thousands light years away. It is now a thousand years after the birth of the New Terran Empire. The race has aggressively expanded during that time, with a fleet that has never lost a war against an alien species. But the signs are there, the old enemy is back, and the Fleet will face its greatest challenge in a foe fifty times their size.

Science fiction in the tradition of Anderson and Weber, where the physics of normal and hyperspace dictate the strategy and tactics. Enormous fleets battle across the immensity of space with advanced technologies. Can the proud human Fleet hold off the tide of an advancing enemy, rallying allies and deploying new tech? Or will the conquerors achieve what they could not two thousand years before, and end the existence of the upstarts

Exodus: Empires at war 1 by Doug Dandridge is advertised as the start of an epic military space opera in the Weberian style and since I liked the sample I bought the ebook a few days ago and I plan to read it soon. The novel - even beyond the Amazon sample - reads well and while this is no guarantee it will keep my interest till the end, I hope it will go more like Hegemony which I really enjoyed than like Alarm of War which turned pulpy quite fast...


"The road has brought him home.

Running from a broken heart and the hangman’s noose he followed the road across Europe; searching for happiness in a pretty girl’s smile, the turn of a card and the depths of a brandy glass. Instead he became a womanizer, and then a thief living behind a charmer’s mask until, finally, the road ensnared him in insanity and murder.

It is 1708, the Age of The Enlightenment, and, in the shadow of the nearly completed St Paul’s Cathedral, Caleb Cade has returned to London a broken man; incapable of love and terrified of the grave, his only friend the half imagined ghost of his dead brother.

The road has now brought him home for there is nowhere left to run and his only hope of redemption is to find the man he might have been.

Haunted by his own ghosts and demons, he relives the events that led to him fleeing England twenty years before whilst trying to make sense of the selfish wasted life he has lived.

He is befriended by a fellow libertine who shows him that not only is it still possible for him to feel love, but that he could also free him from the grave and the clutches of The King of the Winter who has been waiting patiently for him for so many years.

When love and immortality are snatched from his grasp his friend is revealed to be a monster even more broken by love than Caleb. Although he knows what he felt was just a vampire’s trick, what price would he pay to feel such love again…"

The King of the Winter by Andy Monk, first book in the Absence of Light series, with second book, Ghosts in the Blood out also, is a novel that starts very well. The first pages are evocative and literate and I am really tempted to get the book but the vampire part makes me doubt I would really read it as I cannot stand the buggers and my attempts to read about them tend to end in abysmal failures. 

Still, if vampires in a dark historical fantasy setting as described above tempt you, try the sample of this one as you may be surprised how well written and better than what passes for popular and literate in this subgenre - thinking of say Deborah Harkness - The King of the Winter seems to be!


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