Monthly Archives: October 2014

Magic, Myth and Majesty 1 – Defender

Sorry, everyone for not being able to keep up with the posts or reading. I got hit with some midterms (even though I just had midterms in these classes). So, to apologize, I’m doing a review on a 7-book bundle I found a while back called Magic, Myth & Majesty. Titles included are Defender (Robert J. Crane), A Legacy of Light Daniel Arenson), The White Tree (Edward W. Robertson), The Dark Citadel (Michael Wallace), Sword of the Archon (D. P. Prior), The Weight of Blood (David Dalglish), and Ravenwood (Nathan Lowell).

I’m starting with Defender, by Robert J. Crane, because this book introduced me to the mythical world of Arkaria and its incredible….well…take on fantasy. I don’t mean to be vague or anything, it was just the first time I was thrust into a world that resounds with themes of Dungeons and Dragons, and other MMORPG game worlds. It was the first time where I encountered the epic scope of this style world on pages and a lot of it left my head hurting and also wanting the learn more. This isn’t going to be a list of all the questions I have for Dungeons and Dragons-type worlds, so lets dive into Defender.

Amazon: 4.3 (121 ratings)

Barnes and Noble: 4.4 (65 ratings)

Goodreads: 3.9 (388 ratings)

“The world of Arkaria is a dangerous place, filled with dragons, titans, goblins and other dangers. Those who live in this world are faced with two choices: live an ordinary life or become an adventurer and seek the extraordinary.

Cyrus Davidon leads a small guild in the human capital of Reikonos. Caught in an untenable situation, facing death in the den of a dragon, they are saved by the brave fighters of Sanctuary who offer an invitation filled with the promise of greater adventure. Soon Cyrus is embroiled in a mystery – someone is stealing weapons of nearly unlimited power for an unknown purpose, and Sanctuary may be the only thing that stands between the world of Arkaria and total destruction.”

I opened up the book and I’m immediately assaulted by the prologue. I always give them a chance. This prologue is not an info dump about the world so I read it. No characters were named and nothing resoundingly important seemed to happen, but it did leave me with the usual “I need to know what the heck’s going on” feeling to turn the page. That’s when I read “8 YEARS EALIER”.  A did a little groan inside, knowing that what I read will not be addressed for a long time, and seeing as how the prologue was so packed with not much going on, I kept reading.

Meet Cyrus Davidon the human, our hero of the story and his two trusty friends Narstron the dwarf, and Andren the elf. They are the only members of their guild and are out adventuring to kick butt and take all the loot.

They are part of an expedition to kill a dragon, but surprise, everything goes wrong and they are attacked by spiders and other dungeon beasties. They meet other people of various generic classes: a ranger, a druid, a paladin, etcetera… and I thought I knew a thing or two about fantasy, but this book proved me wrong. I never played Dungeons and Dragons, or any fantasy RPG thing, but for a lot of the people that are met and given names and take their few seconds of glory, that “character class” and “species class” is about all the character development between many of these characters. And they didn’t go away after a few pages. These guys would keep popping up and I could not keep track of their names or species, or heck….where the people were or what they did for a living. I got lost a lot. (I blame it on the ADD because I want to).

Going on with the character building…it’s lacking. Cyrus really doesn’t show any internal struggles, in fact, nobody really shows much of an internal battle. There aren’t any surprises when people make decisions because they do exactly what the generic class character will do, and have the petty species fusses that they do. The book itself doesn’t have much of a solid plot line.

These characters get whisked from one end of the world to the other by magic portals and they are daily going to battle because potions and a good night’s party and sleep will rejuvenate these people. The book does NOT disappoint if you want a book of nonstop action, because these guys go looking for danger. Sounds like generic villainy, but these are the good guys. The generic bad guys in each battle scene are actually defending their home territory from all the freakin’ adventurers that raid their houses and kill their friends daily.

I finished the first book. Defender is there first in a series, and strangely there was an epilogue. Shouldn’t the epilogue be book 2 if the thing is the beginning of a series, you know: the characters dealing with the consequences of their actions. Anyway, the epilogue takes us back to where the prologue left us hanging and adds literally nothing to the story, just like the prologue ends up not having anything to do with the story. Yep, those two chapters are worth nothing.

To the credit of this book, I did like most of the action sequences and the places they go were really interesting- like the underworld! But they don’t stay in these areas for more than 2 chapters and then you go off to the next part of the world, so you never get to appreciate being anywhere.

Did you read Defender? How did you like it? Have you encountered Dungeons and Dragons worlds in your reading adventures?

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Judged by the Cover- City of Bones

I came up with a new idea and this book was suggested to me by a friend. So against the saying that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, this is City of Bones, by Cassandra Claire.

City_of_Bones

Based on the cover, City of Bones is about a giant man’s pecs and lips who flashes (literally shines!) an entire city. He does so, possibly in an act of protest against cities made of bones. This city of course builds its infrastructure from the bones of such giants, maybe even this giant’s friends and family (hence the protesting). The book is “funny” (possibly meaning odd or silly), “dark” (as shown by the shadowy bony skyscrapers) and “sexy” (the man’s bare chest and golden locks).

This brings several questions to my mind. How do they find so many bones to create their city? Do they use femurs as the main framework; phalanges for nails and screws; hips and scapulae for foundations and walls? Is the race of giants an endangered species? Are virgin female giants preferred and harvested at age 25, when their hips are fully widened and osteoporosis/pregnancy begun to degenerate the bones (thus compromising the integrity of the structure)?

And what is this part about “Mortal Instruments”? Does that refer to the giants?

((DISCLAIMER: Bones do not make good houses for people. In the interests of giants everywhere, please do not take up residency inside of them. Thank you for your consideration.))

The book is a bestseller, so with all of these questions in mind let’s dive into the anatomical wonderland that is: City of Bones. 

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A Quest of Heroes

books

A Quest of Heroes is the latest book I read and it was written back in 2012 by Morgan Rice. Dubbed the first book in the Sorcerer’s Ring series of 16, it has nothing to do with magical rings as the series’ title would have you think. The ring actually refers to the geography of the kingdom, safely nestled into a magic force field and a ring shaped canyon that keeps the wild things away. This is what the book has to say for itself:

“From #1 Bestselling author Morgan Rice comes the debut of a dazzling new fantasy series. A QUEST OF HEROES (BOOK #1 IN THE SORCERER’S RING) revolves around the epic coming of age story of one special boy, a 14 year old from a small village on the outskirts of the Kingdom of the Ring. The youngest of four, the least favorite of his father, hated by his brothers, Thorgrin senses he is different from the others. He dreams of becoming a great warrior, of joining the King’s men and protecting the Ring from the hordes of creatures on the other side of the Canyon. When he comes of age and is forbidden by his father to try out for the King’s Legion, he refuses to take no for an answer: he journeys out on his own, determined to force his way into King’s Court and be taken seriously.

But King’s Court is rife with its own family dramas, power struggles, ambitions, jealousy, violence and betrayal. King MacGil must choose an heir from amongst his children, and the ancient Dynasty Sword, the source of all their power, still sits untouched, waiting for the chosen one to arrive. Thorgrin arrives as an outsider and battles to be accepted, and to join the King’s Legion.

Thorgrin comes to learn he has mysterious powers he does not understand, that he has a special gift, and a special destiny. Against all odds he falls in love with the king’s daughter, and as their forbidden relationship blossoms, he discovers he has powerful rivals. As he struggles to make sense of his powers, the king’s sorcerer takes him under his wing and tells him of a mother he never knew, in a land far away, beyond the Canyon, beyond even the land of the Dragons.

Before Thorgrin can venture out and become the warrior he yearns to be, he must complete his training. But this may be cut short, as he finds himself propelled into the center of royal plots and counterplots, ones that may threaten his love and bring him down—and the entire kingdom with him.”

I found a better sum up of the book:

“A breathtaking new epic fantasy series. Morgan Rice does it again! This magical saga reminds me of the best of J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini and J.R.R. Tolkien. I couldn’t put it down!” … Google Books

The book is another heroic quest, which is a plot I never tire of (thus far). Thor embarks on his quest, discovers his magic, makes enemies and friends, and falls in love. Some authors do it better than others, and some don’t. Morgan Rice managed to set up all of these little plots in 200 pages and I assume some of these plots don’t get resolved for about more 16 books.

As a character, Thor is the average innocent, inadequate, downright lucky hero. He gets accepted into the Legion in a manner that I felt was rather convenient, it goes like this: He’s Cinderella and too scrawny and gets rejected by recruiters. He runs away from home and crashes the Legion training grounds party. He gets whooped by a bully, but stands up to him anyway. He gets accepted regardless of his illegal entry and his scrawniness. It doesn’t break the integrity of the plot, but I thought “Where’s my mystic Easy Button?” Like all kinds of best selling plots, the Easy Button will get pressed several times, as will the Convenience Button.

All in all, it is a good read. If you liked the authors mentioned above, I’m certain you will like this book as well. A Quest of Heroes is free for Kindles right now, so if you are looking to get swept up for 16 books in a mystic land, this book is definitely worth a try.

Thirst- A Vampire Story

As promised I read Thirst by Claire Farrell, a vampire urban adventure set in the British Isles and the first in a 6-book series. This is the book’s synopsis:

Ava Delaney calls herself a hybrid – a living, breathing human who happens to have vampire poison running through her veins. The only thing greater than her thirst for human blood is her capacity for guilt. She does her best to avoid the human world, for everyone’s sake.

When Ava accidentally enslaves a human while saving him from a vampire, she realises she has to look for help setting him free. Despite her misgivings, she expands her world but finds herself dragged into a possible vampire civil war. With the help of some new friends with ambiguous loyalties, she tries to find a way to keep her human, and herself, alive.

Right off, I found a nice little twist in the vampire story: Ava is a hybrid, and that is what got my interest. Being a curious guy (and not too fond of urban fantasy), I picked it up (aka clicked download) to see how a hybrid would fit into a world of humans and vampires. Ava has all the weaknesses and strengths of a human, with fangs and a thirst for blood and doesn’t fit into either world. We unfortunately do not see her interacting with humans (except for the slave and ambiguous friends mentioned) and the only time she’s with vampires is near the middle to the end of the book.

That may be my only problem with the story. Ava doesn’t get out and be around others (note: she is trying to avoid contact with everyone) so we never see her in a “normal” environment. No school, no work, just from her flat, to another flat, to the vampire stomping grounds. The only humans that we can contrast her with are not normal either, and it’s a small list: a wizard, a guy with a lot of secrets and connections with the vampires, her slave who is nothing more than a puppet with necessities, and a woman jacked up on vampire venom. We don’t get to see how she is different from humans.

As a shout out of originality, Claire let’s us know why the entire human race isn’t becoming vampires (SPOILER ALERT, not big, but still…). Humans have evolved and vampire venom has not. So whatever it was that vampire venom did, it can’t anymore, and thus my long unanswered question of “why aren’t there more vampires?” is solved, and nicely done at that.

Overall, I’d say the book would be a good read for teens and tweens who are looking for nothing more than entertainment. To those who care, the book does not have a lot of violence and when it does, it is low key; also, the romantic tension isn’t intense (more of a slight crush on one guy and a sense of responsibility for the other) and sex is nonexistent (dead people don’t have it in them, who knew?).

Did you read Thirst? What did you think about it? Am I harsh because I’m not into urban fantasy? What unseen tale should I read next? Leave a comment below!

The Unseen Tales- The Fearsome and the Fantastic

I still can’t believe I’m starting a blog, but I’ve had this idea in my head and I’ve decided to go with it. So this is the Unseen Tales! I’m dedicating this blog first and for most to my Kindle, who has shown me that I can download 50 books in about five seconds. The good news? Hours of castles and aliens to sink my mental teeth into. The bad news? Some of the books are dull. At least to me. The internet has taught me that along with the good comes the bad and the ugly. And even among the ugliest of stories, there are some real gems, some really wonderful ideas… they just weren’t….. executed as well as readers like me hoped. So my idea came to me: how about make a blog about all of these books Ive been reading, so other fantasy readers can get some (in my opinion) advice on some books. And hey, it would even help those online authors get some of their titles out there. I have no idea how famous the books I’ve been reading have been, but I can tell you right now that these books are not “Witch Weekly’s” bestsellers. I’m open to your suggestions, but let me give some ground rules:

  1. No  JRR Tolkien works, Harry Potter, or Game of Thrones. I love Tolkien a LOT, but we can all agree that everyone’s blogged about him, or taken the tolkienology classes. And the other guys are also well known. I want the unknown!
  2. No erotic fiction. I’ll say up front that they tend to be pathetic fanfic style books that cost money. If that’s your thing, fine, it’s not mine.
  3. Aside from that, pretty much everything is game, epic fantasy, horror, and yeah I’ll do urban paranormal stuff too, though it makes me feel like I’m reading a fanfic.
Also, be aware that if a book is part of a series, I might only read the first and talk about it here. If I REALLY like it, I’ll let you know that I read the whole series. I hope to post something every week and so without further ado, I’ll start reading this cool little book I found on Amazon.com:
9797936
“Ava Delaney calls herself a hybrid – a living, breathing human who happens to have vampire poison running through her veins. The only thing greater than her thirst for human blood is her capacity for guilt. She does her best to avoid the human world, for everyone’s sake.  When Ava accidentally enslaves a human while saving him from a vampire, she realises she has to look for help setting him free. Despite her misgivings, she expands her world but finds herself dragged into a possible vampire civil war. With the help of some new friends with ambiguous loyalties, she tries to find a way to keep her human, and herself, alive. “
Check out Claire Farrell’s YA blog through the picture link.
(On a side note, this ebook is available on amazon.com for free right now.)
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