Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

This is the 11th book in the series so there will be some spoilers for previous books and minor ones about this book. Given that the next novel in the series is called Changes, I thought it would be the one that shakes everything up, but in Turn Coat there are some serious, and perhaps irreparable, changes. Continue reading “Turn Coat by Jim Butcher”

The Amber Citadel by Freda Warrington

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

The story follows four young people very much on the cusp of adulthood as they step outside their small village with noble intentions. In many ways this is a coming of age story, but it is also a hundred miles from ‘baker boy becomes wizard or legendary hero who saves the world.’ That is a familiar story which I’ve read a dozen times over. This is something completely different, something more grounded and realistic, in my opinion. The world is changing and while the main characters have some small influence on events, they do not change the course of history. Rather they are carried along with the tide and must do their best to survive and keep their head above the waves. The characters are ordinary people with no special skills or training. They do not fit into any familiar archetypes sometimes seen in fantasy books. Continue reading “The Amber Citadel by Freda Warrington”

Constantine – Red Sepulchre by Mike Carey

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

The character of John Constantine has been around for decades, ever since he was created by Alan Moore back in Swamp Thing in 1988. You might recognise the name because of the Keanu Reeves film from 2005, but the comic book is a bit different. One of the reasons I’ve not previously read a Hellblazer: Constantine comic before is because there are so many trades our there, from a dozen or more creators, and they’re not numbered. So it’s really hard to know where to start, and if you need to read them in order from the beginning. This is a reasonable complaint normally reserved for American superhero comics which are impenetrable to the casual comic book reader or a new fan who wants to get into comics. Hellblazer is published by Vertigo and they produce unique and interesting comics for an adult audience that are usually finite, but this is an exception. Continue reading “Constantine – Red Sepulchre by Mike Carey”

Heretics by S. Andrew Swann

Reviewed by Daniel Burton

I like action. I like suspense. I like drama. And increasingly, I like S. Andrew Swann. He knows how to write all of these into his plot, and he does it deftly, smoothly, and never lets the writing get in the way of the story. Continue reading “Heretics by S. Andrew Swann”

Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

This is a book I read in early 2010 and then picking up the second in the series, and meeting the author on the weekend, prompted me to write a review of book one. Space Captain Smith is the first in a series of adventures about Isambard Smith, a civilised, bumbling, slightly silly and old fashioned, stiff upper-lipped Englishman, living in an uncivilised future full of smelly, weird aliens. In the 25th century the British Space Empire faces a new menace, the Ghast Empire, a race of space ants who want to kill everyone because they are just so very naughty and very evil. Continue reading “Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost”

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

This is the second of three standalone novels by Joe Abercrombie set in the same world as his previous First Law Trilogy. Chronologically it takes place after First Law and Best Served Cold. You can read this book independent of any of the others and it will make sense, but several of the main characters have appeared in his other novels, so there are some very nice easter eggs for long time readers. There are also references to historic figures, people long dead that have become iconic and their feats legendary, but in the First Law we met them when they were just men trying to survive. At it’s core, that’s what this book is about – a fight for survival. It’s those who come after that make up stories and inflate the facts to create new heroes and legends to inspire the next generation. Continue reading “The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie”

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

Reviewed by: Liz Rooker

Heart’s Blood (named after a precious herb) is very much a fairytale with obvious similarities to Beauty and the Beast. Set in medieval Ireland and focused mainly around a mysterious fortress on a cursed tor, Heart’s Blood brings together elements of the supernatural, sorcery and dark magic with a coming of age romance story. Continue reading “Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier”

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games, a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and the second part of the Hunger Games trilogy. After putting down the first book I jumped straight into this one, desperately wanting to know where the story went and what happened to the characters, and especially the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. The Hunger Games is a very hard book to follow, and while Catching Fire was good, it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had of it. Continue reading “Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins”

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is a book I took a gamble on. At the time of purchase I’d never heard of the author or anything about the series. I saw it in the new releases section of the SFF bit of my local bookshop, read the back cover and bought it. Now, a few years later, I’m very glad I did because Scott Lynch is one of the most interesting new fantasy authors I’ve read in a long time. For me, he and Joe Abercrombie, helped to reinvigorate my interest in the genre and their novels urged me to go out and look for other new authors with unique voices. I never stopped reading fantasy, and there have been some amazing books in the last ten years, but they were not books that pushed the boundaries or created new sub-genres of their own, which I saw with both Abercrombie and Lynch. Ok, enough preamble. You get the idea that this is something different. Continue reading “The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch”

Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Reviewed by Stephen Aryan

Blood of the Mantis is the third novel in the ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series, a fantasy epic with a unique aspect, Insect Kinden and their Art. After ‘Dragonfly Falling,’ which was a mammoth book both in terms of being a siege book full of giant battles and a hefty read, I wondered where the series would go next and if Tchaikovsky would try to top it with an even bigger battle. Thankfully he doesn’t do that but instead takes the book in a different direction, focusing on another aspect of the story; espionage. At this point in the series we already know that the Lowlands are slowly being drawn into a conflict with the Wasp Empire, piece by piece, and eventually there could be a conflict with them on a scale never seen before. Continue reading “Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky”