Tag Archives: #Loyalty

Moeller, Jonathan: Demonsouled (The Demonsouled) (2011)

Demonsouled
Cover image copyright Nejron

As you can probably see from the section below called reviews I like to check out what other people have to say about an author. Demonsouled sure brought a lot of varied comments and some of what I read made me wonder if the other person and I had even read the same novel. The one I read was the updated and revised edition from 2011. Demonsouled is part of a series and therefore a stand-alone novel.

As the name of my blog indicates, I am fascinated by the darker side of humanity. Part of that translates into an interest in dark (but not horror) litterature. Our struggles to keep within the accepted mores of society are so much more interesting than all of our successes. Which is one (and probably the main) reason I liked Mazael Cravenlock. Like the quote from Schopenhauer at the beginning of Demonsouled says, I firmly believe in the beast that lies within the heart of every man (and woman) just waiting to be let out.

Every time Mazael looks at a person he sees how he could kill that person. For him its just something that happens and that he doesn’t act upon unless he is forced to. In the battles he has fought that ability has certainly come in handy.

Mazael’s older brother is Mitor, Lord of Cravenlock. Mazael is on his way home after an absence of 15 years. He has heard rumours of his brother beeing extremely foolish and he feels the need to find out if Mitor is indeed hiring mercenaries against their over-lord, Richard Mandragon. What do you know? He is.

What we have in Demonsouled is a novel that almost gets the best of Mazael. First of all he wants to get his sister out of her brother’s claws and keep her from Richard Mandragon. Then he feels obliged to figure out where all the disappearing people under the care of Lord Cravenlock have gone to. In addition to that he ends up with the ambassador from the wood-elves on his hands. Mazael’s last wish is for his family to fight Lord Mandragon and he tries to keep his brother from launching an attack. We all know that Mazael is not going to go unchallenged. There is no way Jonathan Moeller is going to make this easy for him. All he does is throw in another challenge in the form of disturbing visions. It makes a person glad she is not a hero in one of his novels.

Sir Gerald Roland is Mazael’s best friend and sticks with him through thick and thin. Along with them follows Gerald’s squire, the 11-year-old Wesson. They take part in most of what happens along Mazael’s journey through Demonsouled, but they do not have the three-dimensionality that Mazael has.

Mazael’s family is nuts – brother and sister both. Totally off their rockers. But Mazael is naive about their development in the fifteen years he has been off to fight. Like a lot of us he wants to see the best in them and defends them when it might have been more constructive to take another look at their behavior. But he, too, learns that families aren’t always what we want them to be.


Reviews:


 

Durgin, Doranna: Barrenlands (Changespell Saga) (2011)

Barrenlands
Cover art by Doranna Durgin

Barrenlands is my first meeting with Doranna Durgin and a pretty good one at that. My read was an updated and reworked edition.

In its basic form Barrenlands is a mystery. Who killed the king (Benlan) is the question that is eating Ehren up. The reason Ehren feels so passionate about finding the murderer (not every one else wants him to find him/her/them) is because Benlan was his best friend. Most of Ehren’s guard-friends had also been killed at the same time.

Ehren is an interesting character yet familiar in a fantasy sense. He is our hero, the one with the quest he must fulfill. He is also the strong, silent type. In his case his silence and strength are very much tools. When one is silent one sometimes listens and is able to hear things one might not otherwise hear. As a hero Ehren has several helpers and not all of them are people. Two killer horses (that is for any other person than Ehren) are among the assistants. Ehren has trained them well and we get a few episodes illustrating how dangerous they are.

Two people also come to his aid. In the one case the helper places Ehren in an awkward position. Ehren is actually supposed to kill Laine (or Lain-iee! as his sister calls him) and his family. Laine is the nephew of the dead king Benlan. He has a weird ability – to see magic. He has another ability but that comes out late in the novel so hush to me. Sherran is the other person that turns up and happens to be the T’ieran of Clan Gurran. She, too, has a magical ability that Ehren will need.

Varien is an interesting character but the opposite of Ehren’s helper. He becomes quite fun in a nasty way as the story evolves. The more I learned the less confidence I had in him. Not exactly the kind of magician I would want at my back. And he just happens to be the new king’s (Rohan) most important advisor.

We begin with a fight scene and there are several to follow. I would call this a YA novel with little emphasis on romance but a whole lot on friendship and action with some magic thrown in.



  • File Size: 503 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Blue Hound Visions (November 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A5FF668

Soriano, M.F. : Blood Brothers (Bound By Blood) (2013)

Blood Brothers
Cover design by Streetlight Graphics

Blood Brothers is Soriano’s first completed fantasy novel although he has previously published some work under the pseudonym of Don Broma. It is the first one in a series, something that means that we actually get an ending – something I really like. I also really liked the cover designed by Streetlight Graphics. Soriano actually managed to include the name of the cover designer. I wish all authors could do that, even if the designer is themselves.

I have to say that my favorite character was Verlvik. There was absolutely no competition in my mind. He is so completely alien to my way of thinking and yet completely magnetic. This is what I mean by alien:

“The bird let out another chirp, and then broke out in song. High exultant trills that soared up in bright melody, and then dipped into lovely low warbles. Verlvik’s lips split into a wide grin. It delighted him that such a small creature could be so full of life.

For several minutes the bird poured its heart into its wondrous song. And then, as if singing weren’t enough, it started dancing too. It bowed its cherry head low, spread its brilliant wings, and started hopping forward and back.

Verlvik pushed the locks of his hair out of his face, and turned his head slightly to the left, to get a better view of the bird with his good eye. The tiny bird, apparently pleased to found an attentitive audience, abandoned itself to its performance. I began to spin like a little top, its bright wings flashing in the sun.”

Here Soriano has set me up with an image of a perfect moment in life. The vividness and feeling of this picture is so clear. And then he hits me in the head with a hammer:

“One of the bird’s spins brought it within Verlvik’s reach, and quicker than a cat he’d snatched the bird up and popped it into his mouth. Its little skull cracked like a nut between his teeth, splashing his tongue with a burst of rich flavor. Its delicate ribs splintered as he chewed, and pricked the inside of his lips, salting the meal with a hint of his own blood. He closed his eyes and munched away happily.”

Say what? My mouth practically fell open. Then I laughed and was completely in love. A better job at setting me up has seldom been done. The superlatives are lining up. A character like Verlvik has never come my way before.

Grillis is the first one we are introduced to. He is about 18 years old and is now alone in the world. Because of a facial birthmark others tend to avoid him and he has been bullied some. He was raised by his grandmother and well-loved. Because of this love he has learned the ability to trust, something that will come in handy for him but also bring him trouble. Grillis is also the kind of person that just keeps on going. We meet Grillis a lot in fantasy literature and I have to say that putting him first fooled me into thinking that this was a regular hero’s journey novel. Blood Brothers is not quite that but it does have elements of it.

Athemon is a character I understand. He has grown up bullied for who he is, growing up among a people who have been taught that they are less than the others. We get a taste of that bullying in his introduction. I have to say that my heart-strings were playing low notes in reading about the way he was treated by “his betters” and how his father reacted to that treatment. Sad, sad, sad. One day Athemon has had enough and his revenge is sweet.

All three characters are brought together and together they have to fight some really bad guys. If I was going to guess at target group it would be somewhere in the YA range and up. Maybe not too young because of some of the violence.

One of our characters is human, the other is a caprine and the third a pictsee. The story is told from each person’s point of view and that means, of course, that we switch between Grillis, Athemon and Verlvik.

When switching between characters like Soriano has done it can be difficult to keep in the flow. As I am sure you could tell from the quote above, Soriano definitely has a feel for the flow and he stayed in it a lot of the time. When he falls out he manages to find a way in. This is an excellent quality and it is obvious that Soriano has a talent for the craft. Every once in a while I felt preached to. All it takes to get that away is a little more editing and that will probably hurt.




Blood Brothers was given to me as a reviewer’s copy. As usual I have tried not to let this influence my review.

Thoma, Chrystalla: Rex Rising (Elei’s Chronicles) (2011)

Rex Rising
Cover design by Chrystalla Thoma

Like so many others, I really like this cover. It is probably the eye that does it for me. I am a sucker for eyes.

Kabam is how Rex Rising begins. Elei is on the run and working to stay alive. Rex Rising keeps on going at that pace. We are thrown from one action scene to another never really able to catch our breaths. Chrystalla Thoma does it so well. She links the different episodes and never goes over the top. If you want action Rex Rising would be a good choice.

While a page turner Rex Rising is also about the effect parasites have on us and could have on us given certain circumstances. At the end of the novel Chrystalla Thoma links to books and studies dealing with the subject. I love what she has made of a topic that could have easily become boring. But Ms. Thoma did not let me withdraw. Perhaps one of the parasites jumped from the novel and “made me do it” as in read the novel almost without stop.

Another thing Chrystalla Thoma has conquered is the art of the flow. Words falling together like water in rapids is a beautiful thing to be part of. I love words when they are treated in such a manner.

The novel concentrated itself mainly on Elei and his adventures and not so much on the world he lives on. We get glimpses and an understanding of the political situation, but there is not room for an in-depth study of the landscape. But we certainly get an in-depth look at sweet Elei. He is such a loveable character. Hera is another character whose qualities become more and more apparent through Rex Rising. Like the author states on her website, she likes her female characters a bit gung-ho. So do I.

Anyways, this is one YA series I highly recommend.



  • File Size: 955 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1475096852
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Amazon.com (August 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services,  Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GZPOQE

Litteral, Heather: Bite (2011)

Bite
Cover art by Amelia Halgas

Bite seems to be the only novel Heather Litteral has written thus far. It was weird not having a copyright page. Does that mean that Heather Litteral does not have copyright? Perhaps this is a stupid question, but I felt it needed to be addressed – if nothing but for the sake of Litteral’s authorship.

I used to think that having “strange powers” would be cool. It didn’t really matter which, as long as I could be different. Reading fantasy and science fiction has completely changed my mind on that subject. In the case of Skye, she can read minds. I would imagine reading minds could be advantageous at times. If some person is out to get you, wouldn’t it be nice to have warning? But otherwise??? Not so much. Reading minds has saved Skye’s life, but it was the ability to read minds that got her into trouble in the first place. We all think things in our heads that we do not want people to hear. Some people want to hide more than others. When what you are trying to hide is betrayal, then it becomes all the more important to silence the one you fear is a threat.

Skye gets chased from the first page of Bite. She has to try to keep one step ahead of the assassins, but that isn’t an easy matter. Early on she gains the help of a guy she bites, Ryan. Biting him was not something she would normally do as her preferred prey is the scummier sort of citizen.

When Skye decides to stop running and stay in Louisiana where she has finally begun to build a life for herself, she finds herself happy to have Ryan’s assistance. Ryan, too, is glad that Skye is on his side. For some reason his own sister (turned vampire) was murdered and now the murderers are after him.

What happens when you stop running? Well, one thing is that you have to face whatever you are running from. Often people think they have to fight these battles alone, but like Skye sometimes we find that others want to help us. At times that help comes with a price, as in the case of Gabriel, but not always.

Heather Litteral has written a fun novel. There are some vampire cliches but those are difficult to get away from. Litteral has focused more on action and less on romance and that is what I prefer. For a first novel, Bite was excellent.



Skye35 = Heather

Sullivan, Michael J.: The Viscount and the Witch (Riyria Chronicles) (2012)

The Viscount and the Witch
Cover art by

The Viscount and the Witch is a short story set 11 years before the events in The Crown Conspiracy. I have the other novels in the Riyria Chronicles already and enjoyed reading them.

Hadrian and Royce are great characters. Royce is a reluctant good guy while Hadrian is a reluctant bad guy. The whole barn scene with the viscount was hilarious.

Michael J. Sullivan has a fairly laid back style of writing that appeals to my funny-bone. He also keeps up the pace and throws in actions scenes where they are appropriate. Excellent writing and a great world for my taste.



My review of the Riyria Revelations

Swift, J.K.: Altdorf (The Forest Knights) (2011)

Altdorf
Cover design by Chris Ryan, collecula

“The Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Hospitallers, Order of Hospitallers, Knights of St John, Order of St John, and currently The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders during the Middle Ages.” (Wikipedia)

J. K. Swift writes historical fiction. This time he writes about the lives of ex-Hospitallers. What kind of person do you become after having been taken away from your parents at a young age and sent into the “Holy War” against those terrible heathen Jews and Muslims?

Like most people our ex-Hospitallers seem to be the same personality they were upon entering the Hospitallers. You know, just people – greedy, selfless, courageous, lonely and so on. Just people.

In the name of religion people sometimes do terrible things. Ignoring terrible actions carried out toward others is the most common one. To begin with Thomas ignores the plight of the citizens of Altdorf. But once the deeds of Duke Leopold of Habsburg touches closer to home, Thomas can no longer deny the unrighteousness of Leopold’s deeds.

Duke Leopold is a greedy man who wants to control the flow of merchandise through the pass of St. Gotthard. “The Gotthard Pass or St. Gotthard Pass (Italian: Passo del San Gottardo) (el. 2106 m) is a high mountain pass in Switzerland between Airolo in the canton of Ticino, and Göschenen in the canton of Uri, connecting the northern German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking part, along the route onwards to Milan.” (Wikipedia)

In The Empire of Man one even finds that “the College of Magic which studies Ghyran, the Lore of Life, is the Jade Order of Wizards. Jade Wizards, (also occasionally mistaken for druids to which their power is related), are powerful healers, who spend most of their time wandering the countryside of the Empire providing their services to rural communities. They construct monolithic stone circles around hidden groves where Ghyran is strongest, using them in their yearly rituals which they perform in order to channel their magic into the soil to provide fertility and abundance.” (Wikipedia) Seraina is a Priestess of the Old Religion, and the last Druid disciple of the Helvetii Celts. She has been gifted by the Great Weave to see what others cannot. In it she knows that she and Thomas will be needed in her people’s fight for freedom.

Part of my reason for digging a little into various sites had to do with the excellence of the novel. Altdorf made me curious about the background for the novel – beyond what the author tells. The whole area has a fascinating history and it was amazingly fun to discover that Altdorf (the area) is used in The Empire of Man.

Anyways, history and fantasy lesson over – except maybe a hint that you check out the background of the Wilhelm Tell myth – you know the whole shooting an apple off the son’s head story. It has relevance.

There is one scene that involves Pirmin that made a huge impression. Pirmin is a lovely character – full of life and enjoyment of life. Anyways, there is one scene that made me think – once again. Fantasy can do that to you. All of a sudden I see humanity in a new light or am reminded of a quality that some people do possess, even people I know.

The Forest Knights is a serial. You can walk away from the serial after Altdorf, but I believe you might regret it. I am going to get Morgarten myself – simply because I want to keep in touch with these people.