My Second Novel is Released!

After a hectic month getting it ready, my second novel Life Under the Noose has been released on amazon, in both paperback and E-book format!

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Fifteen years ago, Rivers was stolen from his village, under the orders of a King. Forced to serve, Rivers’ life was safe as long as his village stayed loyal. Only now it seems that they have broken faith with the King, and the noose around his neck grows tight. His life is forfeit, unless he travels back to his home, and delivers the punishment himself. Now Rivers is faced with an impossible choice. If the life he has carved out for himself is to survive, he must destroy his old world. How far will he go to save his own life? How far can one man be pushed before he breaks?

Life Under the Noose is a fast paced, character driven novel for readers who love gritty action, and high stakes.

Obviously I’m extremely excited about this novel finally coming out. It’s a long haul, getting a book out and ready for publishing!

You can pick up the novel Here!

and you can follow me on Twitter here James Bee

The Last Wish Review (No Spoilers)

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This week’s book is The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the that introduces Geralt, the Witcher. The very popular Witcher video games are based off of these novels. I’ve played these games and really enjoyed them. Thus I was extremely excited to dive into this novel and delve further into the world.

Unfortunately I just couldn’t manage to like this novel. I suspect that many of it’s charms were lost in translation. This novel was translated from Polish to English. To my knowledge, I’ve never read a Polish novel before so perhaps my issues are a result of cultural difference. Certainly these books are very popular.

First off, I found the dialogue to be awkward and limited. It felt more like characters from a video game speaking at each other than true conversation. The plot line’s were also all over the place, with the Geralt flitting from place to place with no through line that really grabbed my attention. This combined with repeated clear info dumps constantly made reading a bit of a chore for me.

There were good aspects of course. The world building was extensive and interesting. Much of it I already was interested in, having already explored it in the video games. The character building was good, if not very straightforward. Certainly reading about Geralt dealing with the various monsters and such was the highlight of the novel.

Overall, I just couldn’t get into the story and hardly even bothered to finish. I can’t say that I would recommend it to anyone, even someone who is a fan of the games.

Blood Song Review (No Spoilers)

 

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Today’s novel is Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. Blood Song is epic fantasy, the first instalment of the Raven’s Shadow Trilogy. Sadly, this book was one that I really wanted to like but found myself struggling with throughout. Ultimately I finished and found that I was done, that I had no desire to seek out the rest of the series.

The main factor that put me off was how much was happening. The sheer amount of different plot lines that were weaved and introduced, some at very advanced stages of the novel, left me somewhat lost or apathetic. There was so many little things happening but I felt that the overall plot lacked.

The pacing was also problematic for me. The novel is often painstakingly slow at parts, describing days at a time, but then jumps in time. By the end, whole months of the final conflict are flying by.

This brought me to my final gripe, is that I found the ending to be extremely unsatisfying. I won’t get into spoilers but i found that all of the build up and tension came to very little. The characters, which were very interesting and well brought up. Weren’t given much to do by the end. Ultimately, Ryan did not deliver on a premise that is built up throughout the story. For a novel that is over 600 pages, this was disappointing.

However, that is not to say that it was all bad. As I mentioned, the characters are very good. The world is well developed and full. The writing itself is read able. Likely many people would, and do, really enjoy this novel. It’s just not for me. For people who enjoy dense novels, who like to reared or are looking for another epic fantasy series to get lost in. Blood Song would certainly be for you. 

You can follow me on Twitter at James Bee

The Fifth Elephant (No Spoilers)

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This week’s novel is the The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett. This is a Sam Vimes story. Vimesis one of my favourite characters from the Discworld and I’m always excited to read one of his books. This novel stands apart from the other’s because it takes Sam Vimes outside of Ankh-Morpork.

This is intriguing, because Vimes is Ankh-Morpork. The city is the core of his being. He’s comfortable in it, nearly unstoppable. He’s spent his whole life within it’s walls and he knows the streets like the soles of his feet. It’s always interesting to see a character taken out of their depth and put into an unfamiliar and unfriendly environment. That Vimes has to travel to a place that is as alien as the moon to him only makes things more interesting.

The novel is takes place largely in Uberwald where dwarves, vampires, werewolves and Igor’s all live together in uneasy harmony. Pratchett uses this to make some interesting points on race relations and traditions. Drawing parallels between the Discworld and our own is not difficult, and is relevant even to this day.  As usual, he hides his rather vicious deconstruction of society behind comedy.

The plot is intricate and engaging, with a number of clues and mysteries to solve. All the characters you would hope show up show up and grow and evolve. The novel hums along nicely with each chapter pushing the towards to the conclusion.

Overall the Fifth Elephant had all of the elements that lend the Discworld novels it’s charms without having some of the pitfalls that sometimes show up. The novel was well plotted, charming, and in many parts, hilarious. I would fully recommend this novel to any fantasy lover, even someone who hasn’t read much or any of Terry Pratchett’s novels before.

You can follow my writing adventures on Twitter At JamesBee

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (No Spoilers)

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This week’s book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It’s celebrating it’s twentieth anniversary so now is as good as a time as ever. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this books and series in my life. This book sits alongside Fellowship of the Ring, as the novels that nurtured my love of reading. Like so many other people this book pulled me in and didn’t let me go for years.

I read and reread the books so many times when i was growing up. I wanted badly to go to Hogwarts, to live in J.K Rowling’s world. As such, it’s impossible for me to take off my nostalgia glasses and properly review this book.

I hadn’t read it in years and yet the magic inside was just as I remembered. The book is extremely charming and witty. It pulls you into the deep world, telling you just enough to give you little glimpses of it.

The characters feel real and you immediately root for them. Coming back and seeing how Harry, Ron, and Hermione all become friends was great. I always love the moments where great friendships are born and this is one of my favourites.

Pacing is a real strength of this novel, the plot speeds along at breakneck speed. At their core Harry Potter books are mysteries and this one is no different. Rowling leads the readers to ask certain questions and provides clues to keep them guessing.

I know people have issues with the series but I feel that they come along in later books when the plot becomes more complicated and the magic more involved.

Overall the Philosophers Stone is a great read, easy and addicting. If you haven’t read it yet I can’t recommend it enough. The magic that resides within it’s pages is too good to not be experienced.

You can follow my reading and writing adventures on Twitter at James Bee  

 

 

The Warded Man Review (No Spoilers)

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The Warded Man by Peter V Brett is this week’s novel. Well, It finally happened, I ran into a book that I didn’t like enough to finish. I almost always finish every book I start. Even if I dislike it initially, the though that it might get good drives me on. I made it 250 pages into this novel before I gave up.

Honestly, I’m unsure exactly what i didn’t like about. The setting was interesting, demons rising each night, humanity struggling to survive their relentless attacks. The magic was cool enough.

Yet I couldn’t get into it. More than that, I found myself annoyed, struggling to turn each page. I feel like two things mainly contributed to this. One was the age of the protagonists. I find it’s hit or miss with children protagonists for me. If they’re too smart, too perfect i find it hard to believe. Something about these children did that for me, though I can’t exactly say what it was. I just found them off putting.

The writing style, mainly dialogue also put me off of this book. Like the characters this is a personal grievance, it wasn’t bad by any means.  It just didn’t jive with me. It felt very on the nose, leaving nothing up to the reader to figure out.

It should be said that this is a highly regarded series, many people like it. It has a 4.27 rating on GoodReads and has a multitude of gushing reviews behind it. It just wasn’t the book for me, though I could see why many people would like it.

This reminded me of the Wheel of Time books, which I also couldn’t get into. Though if i’d found them when I was younger i’m sure I would have. It’s very likely that the Warded Man is similar. The book may have just come to me at the wrong time. Still, if you like horror fantasy you should give it a look. My opinion certainly seems to be in the minority.

You can follow my writing adventures on twitter at James Bee

 

 

The Price of Valor Review (Spoiler Free)

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This week’s book is The Price of Valor by Django Wexler. It’s the third instalment of his Shadow Campaigns series. This novel picks up the story where the second left off. In fact, I found that this one is even stronger that the second novel. The few complaints I did have were largely fixed.

The conflict in this novel comes from both outside and within. Both in terms of the characters struggles and the overarching conflicts. Moreso in this novel than the others I felt the fingerprint of history. I would hazard that Wexler took lessons learned from revolutions and social uprisings and brought them to bear. Certainly this novel echoes the French Revolution’s bloodthirstyness.

Overall the stakes are raised nicely, forcing the characters to develop and grow. My one grip with this book is a certain love situation grows repetitive and frustrating, though that very well may have been the goal.

The star of this series for me has been the battle scenes and this novel is no exception. The action is fast and vivid, both large scale set pieces and more intimate personal conflicts. Though I’ve found that the characters started to feel invincible. With so much combat this kind of plot armour can be problematic.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It carried and advanced the story ahead and made me really hungry for the next one. I would fully recommend this series to anyone who likes military fantasy, as this is one the greatest examples of it that I’ve read recently. 

Lords and Ladies Review (No Spoilers)

 

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This week’s book is Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies. I was looking for a quicker more comfortable read then the past few novels. I’d heard a lot about Granny Weatherwax, having seen her top a number of lists about favourite fantasy characters.

This novel fully delivered on the praise heaped up it. Pratchett was in great form, filling the pages with jokes, interesting ideas and a variety of complex and interweaved plots and subplots. There was as much ridiculous shenanigans as I was hoping for, balanced against a number of serious critiques and criticisms.

However, my favourite part of the book was it’s interesting take of elves. In most of the fantasy that I’ve read, elves are clearly superior to humans. They live forever, often have powers, aren’t likely to have the same weaknesses as plain old humans. It was fascinating to see Pratchett take this notion and bring it to it’s conclusion. This mixed with a number of ideas about folklore and multiple dimensions kept me stimulated and interested throughout the whole novel.

Honestly, theres not much I can say about his novel that I haven’t already said about other Discworld books. It had a lot of heart, was well written and was just uniquely Pratchett. It hit all the beats that I wanted it to and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who has any sort of an interest in fantasy.

You can follow me on twitter at James Bee

James Reads The Sapphire Rose (Spoiler Free)

Photo on 2017-05-22 at 7.09 PM #2.jpgThe Sapphire Rose by David Eddings is this week’s book. I’ve read a number of his novels but not in any seeming order. They just tend to slip their way into my bookshelf via some sale or another. They are in many ways, the essence of fantasy novels. Nigh invincible knights mixed with magic, intrigue and deep  world building.

The Sapphire Rose is no exception. Eddings stuffs the book full of well worn and familiar cliches. From the start you can guess the path the characters will take and what will happen to the obstacles and antagonists that stand in their way. In fact, Sir Sparhawk may as well have just crushed them with the might of his plot armour.

Despite this, the book is both comforting and extremely entertaining. The writing is so earnest and the treatment of the genre so loving that you can look past it’s shortcomings. Endless cheesy banter and a pace that could give you whiplash aren’t enough to make me dislike this book. Sure the characters might be thin and certainly lean towards stereotypes but you still like them, even when their murdering just for the convenience of it.

The plot is perhaps where Eddings shines the brightest in this novel. It is engaging and sharp, with enough odds and ends to keep you both intrigued and focused. The antagonists have reasons for their actions and the ending is satisfying.

Overall this is a difficult book for me to recommend, not because it is in any way bad, but because it is so far from where the current fantasy meta is at the moment. This novel was published in 1991, two years before I was even born and the age shows. Still, I loved it as I have loved all of Eddings work that I’ve come across. I would say it is at the very least worth picking up, if you can find it for cheap and seeing if you like it.

   You can follow my reading and writing adventurers on twitter James Bee

The Shadow Throne Review (No Spoilers)

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This weeks book is The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler. It is the second novel in the Shadow Campaigns series. Second books often tend to struggle. Executing them properly can be extremely tricky.

Firstly they have to keep the momentum of the first book going, while simultaneously raising the stakes. This is key to keep the readers interested in the characters. They must be given room to show their growth while still remaining underdogs. Furthermore, they must continue to develop and grow, which can be a challenge. Finally, the second novel must end strong, in order to keep interest building for the next book.

I found that the Shadow Throne was largely successful in accomplishing these goals. The pace remained as quick as the first with the plot chugging along at a good pace. New and interesting characters and locations are introduced while meshing well with the characters from the first. Wexler manages to keep many of the same strengths from the first book in this one. The characters are immensely root-for-able and interesting. The battle scenes crackle with energy and the conclusion leaves you wanting more.

However, in my opinion it is a weaker book than the first. At times the chapters did drag as the book’s momentum was ground to a halt. This was only for a short time but I did find myself struggling. The first book was filled to the brim with the discovery of the unknown. This is not as evident in The Shadow Throne and the book suffers for it. In addition, the antagonists fell a little flat when compared with the ones from the debut. I felt as though I was not delivered what was promised in that regard.

Despite this, I still really enjoyed the novel and I am looking forward to continuing the story. If you are a fan of military fantasy, I would strongly recommend taking a look at this series!  

As always you can follow me at James Bee

You can pick up this book up on amazon  here