Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Stonehenge Legacy: by Sam Christopher

The Stonehenge LegacyThe Stonehenge Legacy by Sam Christer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, not a fantasy book for a change, but quite a good read. It's along the lines of Dan Brown's da Vinci Code although few books (if any) quite match that level of writing and imagination. Nonetheless, this is interesting and set around Stonehenge. It's a thriller set in modern times and the female detective looking in to the case is believable and comes across well in both narrative and characterisation.

Spoiler:

The tale is based upon the kidnap of a wealthy American girl and her parents' (both influential Americans) attempts to get her released. However, the kidnappers aren't interested in a ransom and the dark side of the tale is that the girl is to be part of a ritual. A very dark one at that. The race is on and the police must find her, however all but a minority of people understand that the case is not about ransom. The symbology and suspense works well with Stonehenge as a background.

On the minus side: the ending feels rushed.


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Book Review for The Gallows Curse: Karen Maitland

The Gallows CurseThe Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the plus side: very nicely written and set in the early 13C makes for an interesting tale. The author's handling of superstition is nicely done and I really liked the Mandrake's Herbal that precedes each chapter. The mandrake is pulled from the ground (as described similarly in Harry Potter tales) and is used for dark magic. How the mandrake is made is especially gruesome and appeals to both historical fiction and fantasy fans. Various herbs/plants are introduced and each has a dark side.

On the minus side: The tale was over long and not a great deal happens. I felt disappointed in the ending, having followed various characters to only find there is no real conclusion for many characters. If it was left open for a sequel, I may not bother having waded through such a long tale already.

Overall: I much preferred Company of Liars. That was a very quirky tale and although that was also quite a slow tale, I felt more engaged with the characters.


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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book Reviews for Legacy of the Eldric: A Fantasy Tale

Legacy of the Eldric is pure escapism, a high fantasy novel that manages to entertain from beginning to end with an easy to read narrative, interesting characters and intelligent world building, I highly recommend this novel to any fan of fantasy fiction. SFBooks.com

In Legacy of the Eldric he has certainly achieved his aim; the characters are memorable and the plot is fast-paced and exciting. It is an opening chapter in a series that I look forward to reading the mid and end parts to. This is solid fantasy; exactly what a fantasy doctor would order for those looking for an enjoyable escape from reality, fans of Tolkien, Hobb and Moorcock will love what they find here.Definitely recommended. 7.8 out of 10 Fantasybookreview.co.uk

The major players in this book had to slowly come together, form a group, and set off on a quest. The mythology, various landscapes plus other bits and pieces of worldbuilding needed to take place so the reader could acclimate to this new world. An abundance of familiar tropes were used but unlike some, tropes used intelligently do not bother me in the slightest. But then I still read and reread all of David Eddings' early books and they don't come any tropier. (Is that a word? If not it should be...) All in all I was impressed with how much story took place.
Dragonsheroesandwizards.blogspot.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk Reviews 

Legacy of the Eldric is a book that's hard to put down.

By Yvonne S. on 26 Aug. 2016

Legacy of the Eldric is a book that's hard to put down as you're led through the twists and turns of the story. Well written with strong characters that develop with the plot. Can't wait to find out what happens next!


By kehs on 16 December 2008

Mystical tale filled with fantastic action scenes, dragons, 3 princes, wizards, astral travelling, demons and tree spiders! Burrows has written an amazing epic fantasy that will have you glued to the pages. The author is a fan of LOTR and his trilogy is in a similar vein, yet is filled with original ideas that are unique to Burrows. This amazing book and its sequels are a must read for all fans of fantasy lands and epic battle scenes.

A great read!

By Indigo Prime on 4 July 2013
I finished this book over a month ago but I have not forgotten how gripped I was by it. The story starts in an understated and unpretentious fashion but before you know it you're hooked! Kaplyn, the central character, is a likeable young man for whom the reader cannot help but feel some affection. He and his travelling companion, Lars, gain more depth and personality as their characters mature through their many challenges and experiences. There's never so good a lesson as one learnt through hardship and adversity. This book provides the young men with plenty of opportunity for learning life's lessons.

As well as developing compelling characters, David Burrows treats his readers to a great story. It is so good to find a book where you can't guess what will happen next!

I found it difficult to put the book down, then was cross with myself for not making it last once I'd finished it! I recommend this book, but be warned; you'll be reaching for the second book in the trilogy as soon as you've finished this one!

Really enjoyed it, clever story

By Ian T on 11 July 2013
It was suggested to me that reading fantasy fiction probably wasn't for me, but I really found myself drawn in to this book. The fact is that most people read this sort of book in their teens and this for me was a great kick to the imagination - very easy to immerse myself in.

What made it enjoyable was the depth of the story, which works on a few levels. There are subtleties peppered throughout that came together like a jigsaw puzzle about half way through the story and together with good main characters kept me interested.

I'm off to download Dragon Rider now to see how the trilogy develops.

A gripping read

By JonW on 16 Jan. 2012
The Legacy of the Eldric was a book I didn't want to put down. I always felt something exciting was going to happen on the next page. I enjoyed the development of the characters and the strong plot. The book ends in a way which makes you want to start the second book straight away.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Do All Writers Like Dressing Up?

Ever since I was a dalek (I'll explain later), I've like dressing up. As a child my favourite outfit was an American cavalry uniform straight from some John Wayne western. Once I was told to fetch my father from the pub, I was about 7 at the time -- honest, and I went in a dalek costume. I was a very serious Dr Who fan in those days.

Unfortunately dressing up seems to have become a thing over the years, firstly as a cadet at school and then in the Territorial Army.
Not satisfied with the modern army I switched to the Saxon (and later) periods and spent many a happy weekend killing Vikings, when they'd let me. Fighting is a brutal hobby and many injuries followed. Not quite sure which I preferred, the TA or the Saxons :)

One time, at a Saxon event in York, I said I'd meet my wife in BHS (a large department store) and I wandered in in full war gear carrying a very large shield and a nine foot spear. To my horror, turning around looking for my wife, I heard a ting. Looking around I was in the lighting section. With my spear and shield, each time I tried to turn it looked like I'd break a hanging lamp or some such. I was mortified and beat a hasty retreat.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of me being a dalek so I'll leave that one to your imagination. So, should I be proud of dressing up? It's always a bit of fun and certainly makes life interesting. I even managed to persuade my family to join me although that seems a long time ago now. Not sure which one of us was the cutest but I think I was high on the agenda :)



Friday, 24 February 2017

Great Wall - Review: One for Fantasy Fans

I didn't see this sooner as the reviews were pants. Having seen it I was thoroughly entertained. It doesn't claim to be anything else other than a monster film and as a fantasy fan I was pleasantly surprised. The "things" are definitely monsters and bear no resemblance to dragons. It's along the lines of aliens in some respects as the things are thoroughly horrible and damned hard to kill.

It's set in 11 C China, I think, Mercenaries have heard of black powder and know it will make their fortune so they seek it out to take back to the West at any cost. However, at the Great Wall they get embroiled in an invasion and are tor between stealing the powder or helping in the conflict.

An enjoyable romp.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2034800/

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Losing a Contact Lens - What's Your Worst Moment?

My strangest experience losing a lens was when ice climbing Ben Nevis (Tower Gully). A friend, Andy, and I were climbing late in the season and occasionally you could hear a crack and whoosh as ice broke off. This was a grade 1/2 climb as there was a cornice, overhang of ice, at the top which we had to dig through.

I wasn't very experienced at climbing, but initially everything was great. I don't like heights, but the crampons and ice-ax made me feel secure and we climbed steadily for 30-40 minutes. I was wearing gas-permeable contact lenses and blinked just as some ice went in my eye and...pop...out went a lens.

"Hold on,Andy," I said. "I've lost a lens." Andy was above me and he dutifully stopped.

"You've lost it," he grumbled, pragmatically. "no chance of finding it now." He was from Yorkshire so a man of few words. We were, at this point, on a very steep slope (70 degrees) about one thousand feet above the ground. He was probably right, but as contact lens wearers are aware, lenses are too expensive to lose.

Looking around the slope I spotted the lens almost immediately to my front. It seemed glued to the ice and small particles of snow were being blown across the surface. I was terrified the lens would also blow away, but watching the small grains being blown over the surface was quite hypnotic. Fortunately, the lens was grey (the right lens is often grey to differentiate left (clear) from right) so it actually showed up quite well against the blue/white ice background. I looped my arm through the strap of the ice-ax which was reasonably anchored in the ice, took off my mitt and carefully extracted lens from surface, realising that it had actually frozen to the surface. Wow, incredibly lucky and saving me nearly £100. I put the lens back in and was ready for the climb.

Higher up and Andy yelled down that he had hit water-ice. This makes climbing very tough as the ice shatters when you strike with the ax which barely forms contact and certainly not enough to trust your weight to. We had to descend with the plan being to traverse across the slope and try again. This was awful. Looking between your feet at a thousand foot drop brings home the precarious nature of the situation and suddenly vertigo becomes very real, as does disco-knee. However, I realised I had no option, so overcoming my fear down we went.

I have never been so afraid. I realised just how vulnerable we were perched so high with a few millimeters of metal of the crampons and an ice-ax for purchase. Dropping about one-hundred feet, we traversed across and continued on up. Climbing up was less fearful, but after the recent scare my heart was beating for England!

The next heartache came near the summit. Andy had to borrow my ax whilst I sat inside the ledge beneath the overhang of ice. The view was incredible but very, very scary. Andy chipped at the cornice, making a tunnel for us to crawl through. He held on with one ax and chipped with the other. We managed to crawl through and upon gaining the summit we swiftly realised that we were standing on an overhang of ice a few feet thick and beneath that was a sheer drop. We moved very swiftly on to solid ground.

What an experience and what a tale to tell. Losing a contact lens and reinserting it on ice pitch. Incredible, but not for the feint hearted.


Andy and I in a White Out (Ben Vrackie I think). Andy looks cold!

Friday, 10 February 2017

If You Thought You Were Having a Bad day...

Hallam ducked beneath the blow, pushed his left foot forward, grunting with the effort and hacked sideways with his sword. Something hard hit his shield and if he hadn’t put his foot forward he would have overbalanced. The fight raged around him. Men and krell dying in their hundreds.
 Hallam screamed a war cry and pushed against the line of enemy, seeking to dislodge a foe and open up their shield wall. Krell pressed hard against his shield, hoping to achieve the same aim. “Hold the line,” he commanded, sensing a slight movement to his left. A line that went backwards was already defeated. A spear glanced off one of his greaves and he stamped down hard trying to snap the shaft. Warm blood flecked his face, causing him to blink. The copper stench in his nostrils nearly made him gag. “Push,” he yelled, trying to get his line forward.

The author pushed back the keyboard and leaned back. Time for a cuppa. He went to the kitchen and turned on the kettle, reaching in to the cupboard for a teabag. Humming softly, he filled the cup and stirred clockwise before settling on a couple of chocolate biscuits as a treat. Sitting in front of the monitor once more, he dunked a biscuit. He shivered and glanced at the thermostat.
“What the hell,” he muttered dialing up the warmth. His slippers were new and fur lined, a rare treat and kept his feet beautifully warm. Stig, an orange and brown cat mewed playfully to one side and the author tapped his leg, allowing the cat to jump up and settle on his lap, purring softly. Outside the sky threatened snow, but the author barely glanced that way.
Finishing his tea and smacking his lips the author settled down to create. His eyes focused on the monitor as he muttered, “Now, Hallam, what fresh hell can I create.”


Hallam groaned, recognising the fearful cry from the darkened sky above, “Grakyn,” he screamed, hoping that the archers to the rear could see in the half-light. The battle was going horribly wrong. He prayed to all the gods for a change in fortune.