Tag Archives: #Assassination

Marlowe, Scott: Killing the Dead (A Tale of the Assassin Without a Name II) (2010)

Killing the Dead - Scott Marlowe

So, how does an assassin go about killing a ghost? Scott Marlowe has certainly thrown his assassin a seemingly impossible job. Getting rid of a necromancer, who was supposed to be dead, is a task fraught with danger for our unnamed hero.

Killing the Dead is an action story with a happy feeling to it. Yes, there is fighting and death and necromancy, but Killing the Dead stays far away from being a dark fantasy. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Killing the Dead available at Scott Marlowe’s website

Marlowe, Scott: Fine Wine (A Tale of the Assassin Without a Name #1) (2010)

Fine Wine - Scott Marlowe

Never underestimate the power of the right sort of alcohol. Especially if your life is on the line. Abelard discovers the importance of a well-stocked wine-cellar during his dinner with the person who apparently is going to be his assassin.

Scott Marlowe has written a funny and fun short-story.


Reviews:


Fine Wine available on Amazon US

Moeller, Jonathan: Child of the Ghosts (The Ghosts) (2011)

Child of the Ghosts
Cover image copyright JC Design
Photograph: iStockPhoto

Being sold by one’s parents for the use of others is a practice that humans have followed for ages. Caina in Child of the Ghosts is an 11-year-old girl who meets this fate. The circumstances surrounding the sale differ greatly from what most children who are bartered experience, but slavery is slavery.

In the time leading up to Caina’s dire fate we read a novel that could be read to fairly young children. For the main part we see meanness, but meanness is part of the human experience. However, during and after her being handed over to her buyers, Caina’s experiences grow brutal. In spite of a fairly young text, my opinion is that the violence in certain parts ups the age level a bit. I have set it at young adult. Again, my recommendation is for an adult to check out the text before letting your child read it by themselves.

Bloodiness aside, Child of the Ghosts shows a side of parenting that is less than pleasant. Caina’s father is a man wanting to protest his wife’s behavior toward Caina without finding the strength to do so. Caina’s mother is ambitious and willing to do anything to get her way.

Oddly enough, Caina finds stability and security once she ends up with the Ghosts – the monarch’s assassins. They are not the people to whom she was sold, but the Ghosts are the ones she ends up with. Her path from then on is fraught with adventure rather than brutality while she learns what being a Ghost entails.

Like most of the other reviews point out, there are annoying mistakes. I imagine finding someone suited to edit your work while self-publishing can be a feat, but as a reader poor editing lessens my desire to read other works by that author. Child of the Ghosts deserves better.

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Reviews:

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Ficks, J.L. & Dugue, J.E.: Kingsblood (The Chronicles of Covent) (2012)

Kingsblood cover

On the planet of Covent there once lived a dark elf named Shade. Growing up had brought Shade into the assassin work-force. I’ve often wondered what makes an assassin. In chapter 1 of Kingsblood we get a look at part of what brought Shade into the business.

I like Shade. Yes, he does some pretty gruesome stuff. But, you know, we all do at one time or another. Sometimes we are the victim and sometimes we are the perpetrator.

To Shade being an assassin is a job that he takes pride in. He is the best in his field. There are some people he will not kill – women and children. He also prefers to kill those who he considers black marks on his planet. Shade’s abilities are the best and therefore he wants jobs that challenge him. If you end up being under his protection, you know that you will be protected. On the other hand, if Shade decides the world is better off without you – well …

One person Shade decides to take under his wings is King Magnus. But, you know, one person (albeit the best assassin in the world) against a whole guild of assassins? Maybe Shade has bitten over more than he can chew this time. He is not quite alone. Shade has strange and mysterious people who root for him. Some of them even aid him. Hmmm. Wonder what kind of agenda they have?

There is plenty of action and humour. Our clumsy duo reappears in Kingsblood. You know, I feel sorry for them. Poor guys are out of their league.

Although several of the characters possess magic, there wasn’t really a lot of focus on magic. Instead action scenes were more about the fights themselves and Shade’s ability to be a shadow. King Magnus should be glad Shade is on his side.

I am going to say one extremely positive thing about Fick’s and Dugue’s writing. Even knowing what their agenda is, I struggled to see it in their writing. No soap-boxes, just really good writing.

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You can find the authors at Facebook-Logo and twitter-icon1.

Thom Scott’s website (last updated 2011)


DWED reviews


My review of The Waiting Game

I received a copy of Kingsblood as a reviewer’s copy but have tried to not let that influence my review.

Whates, Ian: City of a Hundred Rows

Although Ian Whates has writing experience, City of a Hundred Rows is his debut into the industry of novels.

CITY OF DREAMS & NIGHTMARE (2010)

Cover art by Greg Bridges (Incredible artwork)

Chance brought me to the city of Thaiburley and the street-nick named Tom. Sometimes chance is a wonderful thing and sometimes it isn’t. In this case I found myself liking the writing of Ian Whates and wanted to read the next book of the trilogy.

Thaiburley is a city built in tiers – one hundred of them. At the bottom we find the City Below (often called City of Nightmare by its denizens) and the poorest of the population. Wealth increases as one ascends, until one hits to the top layer – the Upper Heights. This is where the angel-like demons are supposed to reside.

The first two people we meet in City of Dreams & Nightmare are Tylus, our newly-minted Kite Guard, and Tom, our young street-nick. Tylus is out patrolling for the night, while Tom is climbing the many layers of the city so he can get to the top and steal a demon egg. Both stumble onto the apparent murder of a council-man. Thinking Tom is the culprit, Tylus chases him and sees Tom fall off the side of the building. Action-packed from the very beginning.

The adventure continues through the whole book. Tom is chased by the authorities for his assumed part in the murder of councilman Thomas. While running, Tom meets up with Kat – survivor of the Pits (like Rome’s Colosseum). In spite of her young age, Kat is an incredible fighter. Tom on the other hand is very good at not being seen. Both skills will come in handy during the story, because this novel is for the most part about trying to survive against the odds. The baddy of the story, councilman Magnus, sends off his assassin Dewar to tie off Tom. Dewar is another incredible fighter. He has absolutely no qualms and often likes to play with his victims.

Do I recommend this book. I’ll say definitely. City of Dreams & Nightmare was an easy and fun read. Ian Whates certainly knows his craft, and as a reader I always delight in such authors.

CITY OF HOPE & DESPAIR (2011)

Cover art by Greg Bridges

This second installment in the trilogy City of a Hundred Rows is as fun to read as City of Dreams & Nightmare was. Once again, we get to meet Tom, Kat, Dewar and Tylus, but this time in different combinations.

Thaiburley’s strange power is failing. The Prime Master sends Tom off to discover the source of the great river Thair in hopes that he will find out just what is causing the failure. Ironically, Dewar the assassin is sent along to protect Tom and his companions. There is no way Ian Whates is going to let this journey be a peaceful one, and we are not disappointed. Here too, are plenty of survival struggles.

Kat, in the meantime, remains in the City Below. There The Soul Thief is killing off people with “talent”. In addition to the Soul Thief the gangs of the under-city are changing, both in structure but also in behavior. This change in gang-life makes life more interesting for Kat, her sister and the Tattooed men. Kat is a great character and her adventures in this book are pretty intense.

Tylus, our Kite-Guard, is sent to the under-city to make something of the City Guard there. Automatically, we know that he is going to have his work cut out for him.

City of Hope & Despair is as much fun as City of Dreams & Nightmare. I like the fact that these books are action-filled and lacking in the gooey factor. Both books deliver what they promise – good old-fashioned adventure. Ian Whates is definitely on my author-plus list.

CITY OF LIGHT & SHADOW (2012)

Cover art by Greg Bridges (Breathtaking)

Maybe the bone-flu is not all it seems to be. As City of Light & Shadow begins, we get a glimpse at what might be the reason behind the disease.

Tom has reached his goal and is left trying to assimilate information in amounts he has never had to before. For such a curious soul, this must be a gift – although a double-edged one. Thais is not exactly what he expected in a god, but how are gods supposed to be anyways.

Dewar wakes up, clearer-headed than he has been in a long time. He knows exactly what he wants to do next. It’s time to go home and take care of some unfinished business.

Kat and her Tattooed men have not given up on getting the Soul Thief. With Tylus and some of his men, they set off into the Stain to kill it.

All the stories come together and we see clearly how they all have something to do with Thaiss. Ian Whates tells an action-filled story, one that kept me reading. City of Light & Shadow is a fun and easy read, just like the other two. The ending left me wondering if this was indeed going to remain a trilogy. Hmmm. In a sense there was closure. On the other hand I was left hanging a bit. Hmmm. Oh well, I like it when authors do that to us readers. It’s kind of cruel, but also a lot more fun for me (kind of). I’ve really enjoyed my journey into the City of a Hundred Rows.

Fenn, Jaine: Principles of Angels (2009)

Principles of Angels is Jaine Fenn’s first novel. It’s supposed to be set 7000 years into the future on the uninhabitable world of Vellern. People live either Topside or Undertow, where Topside is the more attractive part of their world. Here the world is ruled by democracy by murder (you get to vote on whether to kill a representative). The assassins are called Angels.

Taro lives with his Angel aunt who is murdered. This throws him even deeper into the Undertow and we get to see his struggles to survive and his search for his aunt’s killer. I think “Principles” could probably be called a mystery. On Taro’s search, Taro is confronted with his own fears and prejudices.

I liked “Principles”. It is a well-written novel with prose that flows from one line to another. It is violent, but I’m guessing people who live in this world’s Undertows would recognise the fears and difficult choices you have to make. If Fenn continues like she has, then her authorship is going to a fun one to follow.

Kay, Guy Gavriel: Under Heaven (2010)

Under Heaven

Under Heaven affected me profoundly. I believe it was the depth of Shen Tai’s mourning for his father and his offering to his father’s spirit that moved me most. Imagine setting yourself the task of burying all the bones from a battle twenty years past in order that those spirits might find peace. A more appropriate place for restless spirits than a battleground I cannot imagine.

Kay went on to say that he’s interested in how the course of a person’s life can change in a moment, and how “small moments and events can ripple outwards.” Whether it’s an individual or the life of a people, he pointed out, “significant consequences can begin very inconsequentially. That’s one thing that fascinates me. The other thing that fascinates me is how accident can undermine something that’s unfolding, something that might have played out differently otherwise.”

To Kay, “the human condition is redolent with this aspect of randomness, and I try to work that into all of my books.” (CBC Books)

The choices Shen Tai, his older brother and their younger sister, Shen Li-Mei, make end up having both intended and to a great extent unintended consequences. All three discover that assistance and opposition comes in many forms and sometimes from unexpected quarters.

In this story there aren’t any really bad people. There are mainly just people with the regular gamut of human emotions and with varying degrees of ability to do something about their desires. While the Tang Dynasty was a better place for women than the ones before it, women held less room in society than men. As with most places in the world today, women had to be a lot more creative in their maneuvering than men did. Their accepted roles were also very different from the one men were able to hold. To become a warrior like Wei Song, one who even guarded a man, was not something that was open to most women (much like today).

Reading about the role of women was both a painful process but also a delight. Delightful because of the intelligent and brave women I got to meet and painful due to the few changes that have happened in the world when it comes to the roles of women and how true their power is.

Under Heaven is a fairly dark story. Considering the times and the rebellion it portrays that is no wonder. I am trying to decide if I would call it dark fantasy, but I don’t know if that would be appropriate. I love its complexity and many threads that all come together one way or another in the end. What an awful race we humans are. It really is rather sad to see us revealed in all our terrible glory. Under Heaven was an intensely touching book that left me thankful for having found it. According to the author, his goal in writing is to keep the reader turning pages. It worked with me.


Reviews:


Women of the Tang Dynasty

Song Dynasty (the Kitai Empire in Under Heaven)

An Shi Rebellion (simplified Chinese: 安史之乱)

Hua Mulan (Chinese: 花木蘭): female warrior

Uyghur Khaganate


  • Winner of the 2011 Sunburst Award for Adult Litterature
  • Nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Best Novel
  • Nominated for the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature