Briguella Review:

36665372Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 8/10

I would like to thank Vicki Fitzgerald for providing me with a free copy for an honest review:

‘We are closing the net on you. We are coming and we will find you. You will be held accountable for the six young women you brutally murdered. I will have justice for all of them, and for Kate Rivendale. Hand yourself in and make things easier for yourself. It’s only a matter of time until we come knocking at your door.’

PLOT:

After seven women fall victim to a serial killer, journalist Kate Rivendale becomes embroiled in the manhunt. The authorities have no suspect, only one forensic link dating way back to the 1930s.

Detective Chief Inspector William Beckley needs to salvage his career; he has too many deaths on his conscience. Beckley entices Kate to go undercover, a decision which backfires with devastating consequences.

While DCI Beckley reaches a horrifying conclusion about the murderer Kate enters a desperate fight for her life… while battling to keep her own secrets buried.

REVIEW:

This was an enjoyable little novel, that was easy to read mainly because it flowed nicely. The novel is split between three characters and these are; DCI William Beckley, A journalist Kate Rivendale, and the Killer and each of these characters felt truly realistic.
The author paints a grim present day world that I totally agree with, such as the character Kate siting in a park watching a child play, whilst noticing there are syringes laying about, as well her seeing a hooded drug dealer selling coke to a young teenager, and I totally relate to these sorts of events as I have witnessed things like this myself, so I sympathised with Kate’s character.

Now I want to go onto the pressures of each job our characters do and I will start with Kate and journalism, the author really shows the complicated nature of the job. As Kate tries to find the perfect story to impress her boss, and even when she gets a good story her boss still isn’t impressed or satisfied and this leads to many stressful situations for Kate who has her own personal troubles to deal with. Kate finds it hard to detach herself from the stories she investigates and she becomes emotionally attached at times, and yet again the author really summed up todays world of people trying to get a quick buck here and there because they might make the news in the papers.

DCI Beckley’s job is also well realised as the author shows the pressures of a detectives livelihood. Beckley at times is pushed to the limit as the dead are growing in number and he hasn’t a clue who the killer is, Beckley also has a troubled past with a previous case that he feels responsible for, and this eats him up inside and makes him more determined to catch this new killer.

The author has clearly done some good research for this novel or she has worked in one of the roles previous to writing this book. The police press conferences were really well detailed and felt extremely realistic as well as the Post Mortem descriptions which were extremely detailed, which I thoroughly enjoyed mainly because some of the killers traits that he used on his victims were different to what I’ve read before. I always enjoy the profilers of any book like this, I find these people really intelligent in how they determine a killer’s traits and weaknesses and now I’m older I look back at my childhood and think that I’ve wasted a good opportunity as I would have liked to have been a profiler myself.

The Killer is an interesting person, the reason for these horrific crimes this lunatic commits is a little staggering, the Killer only kills blonde women. For me as a reader there was one key scene that revealed the identity of the Killer early on and I told my wife who I thought it was and I was proved correct by the end. Did this ruin my experience of the book? I would say no, the police still had to catch this crazed buffoon before any more deaths took place, so I was fairly entertained reading about the murderer outwitting the police.

Overall this was great outing for the author who clearly has a talent for writing, she describes human emotions perfectly, as I witnessed both sides of the human mind. The lunatic murderous kind and the fighting spirit of the will to survive at all costs, the book really shows the reader present day society in a nut shell which is kind of depressing but in a good way.

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The Sea Watch. (Shadows of the Apt #6)

The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt, #6)

By Keith Brady

Bald Mage Rating 8.5/10

“There will come a tomorrow, when we shall speak again. Remember that.” And the sheer depth of her pain and anger, Chilled him to the bone.

 Upon returning from Khanaphes, Berjek Gripslop, Praeda Rahespear, and Amnon (formally the first soldier of Khanaphes) meet with Stenwold Maker to give him a firsthand account of the events surrounding the Invasion the distant Beetle city. Though pleased to see their safe return Stenwold is apprehensive, as there is one noticeable absence, his niece Cheerwell. And upon hearing what took place, Stenwold is incensed at not only the company his niece is keeping but also her rashness.

As Collegium’s ships come under attack from pirates, (some are even disappearing entirely) Stenwold finds himself drawn into investigating the matter after Rones Failwright a shipping magnet, petitions the assemblers at the Collegiate Amphiophos. And what Stenwold discovers will change his world forever.

With an almost worthless peace treaty with the Wasp empire and a fragile alliance with the paranoid Vekken, in a world of subterfuge Spymaster and Statesman Stenwold Maker has to take stock of many events past and present, and not for the first time in his illustrious carrier asks himself a question; is the enemy of my enemy, my friend… or my enemy? And the answer to that is never clear!

“Don’t spoil too much for a fight, tall one,” she advised him. “For my kind, that’s wooing.”

Wow what a wonderful edition to the shadows of the Apt series! This for me ranks among one of the best so far. The sea Watch mainly centres on good old Stenwold Maker, Beetle Kinden spymaster extraordinaire and statesman/diplomat of the coastal city of Collegium. And Teornis, who is a Spider Kinden Aristoi of the great family Aldanrael. Teornis became a popular figure in Collegium, as he was instrumental in leading a fleet of ships out of his own city of seldis to break the Vekken siege of Collegium. That said we do have some great supporting characters (shouldn’t expect anything else from Mr Tchaikovsky), these include; Tomasso master of the pirate vessel the Tidenfree, Laszlo a young crew member of the Tidenfree who befriends Stenwold Maker (he also happens to be my favourite character), Wys and Paladrya of the sea Kinden. These are to name but a few of a large and unforgettable cast of new characters in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Sea Watch.

The best part about the Sea Watch is the expansion of the already vast world of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s insect kingdom. We are introduced to some fantastic characters, beasts and places which, though at times felt a little fantastical to me, gave an exciting nonstop thrill throughout this book. Which has only left me wanting more of the same, and that can only be a good thing!

There is another wonderful aspect to this book, and that is the political arena. All the subterfuge and espionage not only between the members of the Amphiophos- which is the seat of the Collegiate government. But also between the Ant Kinden diplomats, the Spider lands, not to mention the new environments and peoples we are being treated too. All are wonderfully written and very engaging for the reader. Though it can be a daunting to start with a whole host of new characters and environments in an already vast world, Mr Tchaikovsky eases us in to this exciting new world that brings with it Myths and Legends of its own.

Thus far the Shadows of the Apt series is a delight to read and I would go so far as to liken it to A Game of Thrones, only with insect evolution. Adrian Tchaikovsky has surpassed himself yet again and left me wanting more, much more and soon!

I believe this is one of the most overlooked Fantasy series out there and I urge anyone that hasn’t read any of these books to give them a go, you won’t regret it.

“What I mean is this: you see the Empire do pointless, violent, cruel things, and you mark it down as the Wasps simply doing what Wasps do. But I, being who I am, ask why.”

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiends of Nightmaria.

The Fiends of Nightmaria  (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, #6)

By Keith Brady

Bald Mage Rating 7/10

“Accord them no sympathy, Mr Reese. They make their own fate after all, and if through incompetence, laziness or stupidity they must live a life of abject suffering and hopeless, despairing misery, why, no-one ever said the world was fair.”

 

The city of Forrog has a new King, Bauchelain the first, along with his trusty companion now the Grand Bishop Korbal Broach and their ever suffering manservant Emancipor Reece they have absolute rule over their subjects. However fearing an uprising due to rising tensions with the neighbouring country of Nightmaria home of the grotesque fiends, King Bauchelain has had nearly all of the Poets, Artists and bards put to death in an attempt to quell the tensions in his unique way. There are however, some survivors and they languish in the palace dungeon arguing amongst themselves who’s turn it is next for the rack, oh and making their escape and seeking revenge on the necromantic duo. At the same time a team of bungling thieves are planning to enter the palace and rescuing the thief guild leader from the evil clutches of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. Oh and on top of all this the Indifferent God has escaped and now prowls the bowels of the palace along with other unmentionables.

Firstly let me say this is a typical Erikson book, by that I mean throw a load of characters together on differing story threads and let them collide in the middle, not a bad thing though under the circumstances I hope you all agree.

Well the duo is at it again causing mayhem where ever they go, and in this instalment Bauchelain finds himself a King, of forrog no less. And in his usual droll way governs like a necromancer would, mercilessly. Full of self importance Bauchelain has put to death all those he thinks would spread ill word of the coming war with the country of Nightmaria. Bauchelain and Korbal Broach are their usual selves throughout this book with Bauchelain never seemingly concerned about any eventuality that comes his way even when Demons are called upon. Korbal Broach is continuing with his experiments with a good supply of headless corpses roaming the bowels of the palace, he’s also taking his new position as Grand Bishop as seriously as Korbal would, with upmost contempt. They are just two of the most loveable rogues you could ever wish to find in a book and my favourite throughout the entire Malazan series even though it’s mostly cameo appearances. And poor old Emancipor Reece ever faithful man servant to our duo is more often than not Bauchelains conscience in the ever chaotic world his masters find themselves.

“I have proclaimed a holy war, Ambassador.” “Yes why?” “Korbal Broach frowned.”Because I felt like it”

Now this next group had me in stitches, I’m referring to the prisoners Bauchelain has so kindly thought to imprison and torture. Firstly we have Brash Phluster who’s constantly moaning how late the royal torturer is, and then goes into debating whose turn it is next. Apto Canavlian carries the argument on along with Tiny Chanter his brothers Midge and Flea, whom if there’s a brain cell among them it would be a surprise. Tulgord Vise a former mortal sword of the sisters Soliel and Poliel is next on the list; Tulgord is a proud and righteous man and is a member of the Nehemothanai sworn hunters of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. He has very little patience when it comes to the others mind. Stech Marynd is the last of our little band of merry prisoners; Stech is by far the most sensible and gives the vibe of a true leader in his former life before his incarceration. What makes this lot so special is the banter between them and as the story progresses it becomes all the more bizarre.

Now we come to the thieves, this lot is just as much fun if not more so; Plaintly Grasp, Barunko, Symondenalian Niksos, Lurma Spilibus, Mortari and Le Groutt make up our unlikely band of thieves mounting a rescue to release the leader of the thieves guild Dam Loudly Heer, and if there’s any treasure knocking about well, they’ll take it of course. This bunch of buffoons is an absolute riot especially Barunko bless him, they all gel together wonderfully and could have a novella all of their own. The only thing I can really say against The Fiends of Nightmaria would be that sometimes the bizarreness of the dialogue distracted me from the story line other than that it’s a cracking read.

On the whole Erikson has made every character in this book thoroughly entertaining and will have you chuckling to yourself throughout, in my opinion it would make a wonderful script for a Carry on film.

Oh and did I mention the Indifferent God has escaped, well he has……………

My next post will be in two weeks time.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who Memoirs: Part One

William Hartnell

By Steve Parkes

Doctor No 1: William Hartnell

1963-1966

Companions and Ratings:

Susan Foreman 6/10

Ian Chesterton 8/10

Barbara Wright 8/10

Vicki 5/10

Steven Taylor 7.5/10

Katarina 5/10

Sara Kingdom 7/10

Dodo Chaplet 2/10

Polly 7/10

Ben Jackson 8/10

Fan Art Companions and Villains in the Hartnell era:

first-doctor-companions-enemies[1]

Stories and Ratings:

*Missing episodes, that don’t exist on film, but I have them on audio:

Pilot Episode: DVD

7/10
This was an interesting insight into how different the original cut was compared to the transmitted Unearthly Child version.

An Unearthly Child: 4 Episodes DVD

9/10
Great opening story that really sets the standard for the series. The Caveman plot really is good and you get a sense of danger throughout, still to this day the fight scene at the end is one of the most violent you will see in the series history.

The Daleks: 7 Episodes DVD

7/10
The first appearance of the Daleks, but is the story good? The Daleks themselves are impressive and you can see why they were an instant hit, but at seven episodes this was a long-winded affair.

The Edge of Destruction: 2 Episodes DVD

7/10
Claustrophobic thriller set in the Tardis, the acting is a little ropey in places, but this story cements the relationships of our time team.

Marco Polo: 7 Episodes Audio

10/10
This is one of the best historical stories to feature in Doctor Who and the action takes place over months which is unusual in itself. All the regulars and guest cast are on fine form!

The Keys Of Marinus: 6 Episodes DVD

6/10
The weakest story of season 1, mainly due to the fact the production values are shoddy, but I imagine the plot put a huge amount of strain on the budget!

The Aztecs: 4 Episodes DVD

7/10
Barbara is the star of the show in this story as she is mistaken as an Aztec God and you get a real sense of horror at the Aztec way of life.

The Sensorites: 6 Episode DVD

7/10
The Sensorites is the first hardcore science fiction story and overall it works well, the Sensorite’s themselves come across as really powerful aliens at first but by the end they are just pathetic and timid.

The Reign Of Terror: 6 Episodes DVD, animated episode 4 and 5

8/10
A great re-telling of Robespierre and his Reign of Terror, William Hartnell is in his element here and it’s his finest story to date.

Planet of the Giants: 3 episodes DVD

6/10
This story gets off to a shaky start, the sets are brilliant, with the time team being reduced to the size of an inch and everything being massive, the designers are the winners in this story.

The Dalek Invasion Of Earth: 6 episodes DVD

4/10
The Daleks are back but unfortunately the story is a mess; poor acting throughout and the plot is completely ludicrous, the film version refined this story to better effect.

The Rescue: 2 episodes DVD

7/10
With Susan gone, this is basically an introduction story for the new companion Vicki and it  works in that effect for a two episode story, this sees the Doctor at his best.

The Romans: 4 episodes DVD

9/10
Doctor Who goes into the realms of comedy and it works a treat in this story. William Hartnell gives one of his best performances to date as the Doctor and you can clearly see him enjoying the material he has to work with.

The Web Planet: 6 episodes DVD

3/10
The first episode is brilliant, but the rest of the story is a little too weird for my taste, the costumes of the insects are pretty decent, but this lacked something that I can’t put my finger on.

The Crusade: 4 episodes, DVD for episode 1 and 3, Audio for episodes 2 and 4

9/10
Yet another great historical story at this point in the series, I seemed to enjoy the historical stories more than the Science Fiction ones. All the regulars turn in great performances, as do the guest cast.

The Space Museum: 4 episodes DVD

6/10
The first part is really good and brings a sense of mystery to the story, but the remaining 3 episodes are really bland, The Moroks are not the best baddies the series has ever produced.

The Chase: 6 episodes DVD

1/10
The worst Dalek story ever made in my opinion, the Daleks are used in a mocking fashion and not taken seriously, the story seemed like a light hearted send off for Ian and Barbara.

The Time Meddler: 4 episodes: DVD

6/10
Interesting historical story that features another Time Traveller for the first time, with Ian and Barbara now gone, it’s left to Vicki and new companion Steven to carry the story and this makes a refreshing change. Peter Butterworth is excellent as the monk.

Galaxy Four: 4 episodes, Audio episode 1,2 and 4, DVD for episode 3

7/10
A decent start for season 3 with a story that tells the viewer that beauty isn’t always a good thing as the Doctor and his companions face the sexy Drahvins and the hideous Rills with their robotic chumbley servants, the recent discovery of episode 3 didn’t improve my visualisation of the story.

Mission to the Unknown: 1 episode Audio

7/10
The only story not to feature the regular cast, and this episode was a little prelude to the Daleks Master Plan which featured later in the year, as a one off it works well and some of the elements reminded me of Blakes 7 which the same writer would pen many years after. But could the Daleks sustain their own series, I think not.

Myth Makers: 4 episodes Audio

9/10
This is one of my favourite historical stories ever in Doctor Who and this is a real treat for the ear. The regular cast turn in some excellent performances, and the guest cast are terrific, the dialogue at times is vibrant and fun but this doesn’t take away the horror of the siege of Troy.

The Daleks Masterplan: 12 episodes, Audio episodes 1,3,4,6,7,8,9,11 and 12, DVD episodes 2,5 and 10

10/10
This is the longest story to date and in my mind the best Dalek story of the Hartnell era. The Daleks are treated seriously this time out and prove deadly throughout, the story has a high death count and also sees a fine performance from Kevin Stoney as Mavic Chen, even the Christmas episode doesn’t spoil the story.

The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve: 4 episodes Audio

8/10
Steven takes centre stage here as William Hartnell is missing throughout much of the story, but Peter Purves rises to the occasion and turns in a sparkling performance, the story is some what let down by the introduction of Dodo at the end.

The Ark: 4 episodes DVD

7/10
A four part story that is split into two halves, the first phase is the Doctor and his companions landing on the ark and Dodo infecting them all with the common cold, the second phase is the consequences of the Doctors actions in the future; a nice little tale.

The Celestial Toymaker: 4 episodes, Audio episodes 1,2, and 3, DVD episode 4

6/10
A strange and silly story with the Doctor missing for most of the plot so this leaves Steven and Dodo to play a lot of silly games to win back the Tardis, however Michael Gough comes over as a menacing enemy as the Toymaker.

The Gunfighters: 4 episodes DVD

7/10
This story is harshly treated by many Doctor Who fans but I rather enjoy it, the production team do a good job of re-creating Tombstone and all the cast are clearly enjoying the story, the song of the Last Chance Saloon is a little annoying at times.

The Savages: 4 episodes Audio

3/10
This is one of the worst stories in the Hartnell era by a long way, and unfortunately this is the last story to feature the underrated Peter Purves as Steven Taylor, he should have had a better send off.

The War Machines: 4 episodes DVD

7/10
This felt like a trial run for the next season, the War machines themselves are a little silly, Dodo’s exit from the series was handled as badly as her entrance to the show. The stars of this story are the new companions Ben and Polly they are the breath of fresh air that the series needs.

The Smugglers: 4 episodes Audio

8/10
A swashbuckling adventure, new companions Ben and Polly bring energy to a tired format and Hartnell gives a great performance.

The Tenth Planet: 4 episodes, DVD animated episode 4

6/10
This story is famous for two things the first appearance of the Cybermen and the first time the Doctor Regenerates. The story itself drags even for a four episode story, but the revelation at the end that we have a new actor playing the Doctor is brilliant.

 

My Doctor Rating: 7/10

Average Score per story: 6.8/10

Part 2 Patrick Troughton next month

The Intruder Review:

37791949Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 7.5/10

‘You’re a regular man of mystery, Mr Heming’

ARC from Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT:

He has the key to hundreds of houses.
Maybe even to yours.
***
A gripping, sinister, deeply unsettling novel from the most sociopathic narrator of 2018. Meet Mr Heming…

***
William Heming is an estate agent. He’s kept a copy of every key to every house he’s ever sold. Sometimes he visits them. He lets himself in – quietly, carefully – to see who lives there now, what they’re like, what they’ve been doing.
But what will happen when he gets caught?

Review:

This was a great experience for me, it felt like I was a psychologist listening to a patient revealing his history to me, and this patient was William Heming!

Whilst reading this story it felt like William Heming was lying on a chaise lounge revealing little pieces of his story to me and what a strange tale it is. William has a fascination with wanting to know your secrets, he will get into your home and lie low in either an attic or a cupboard waiting for you to go out and then he will go through your private documentations and belongings and learn all he can about you, he also always takes one thing as a memento.

To assess William’s psychopathic tendencies through out his life, you must start from his child hood, with any case like this something must have happened to set these chains of events off.

William’s childhood is a troubled one, his family early on begin to realise this lad is a bit strange, it’s when the plot moves to his school days that William shows his tendencies as he begins think what’s behind a closed door. He will look at people and think what secrets are they keeping, it’s like a drug to William, he will form ideas in his head about the people he is eyeing up, often being disappointed at the revelation when he finally gets into the school rooms and goes through the kids stuff. His school days really see him master his skills at keeping hidden and out of sight.

But William’s drug is his achilles heel, as his life moves on to when he is a trainee at Mowers & Mowers estate agency, and now has unlimited houses to hide in, that things become a little terrifying. I actually found William to be a good character some of his reasoning about people summed up my own thoughts as well, but the scary thing about this book is, is there someone in your attic, or basement waiting for you to go out, so they can eat your food and drink your cola, with out you having a single idea they are there? This is what William does, he is a person of no fixed abode, he just picks a house at random and lives there.

William does have a weakness and that is his thirst for knowledge, he is an intelligent man always ahead of the game, but he likes to form opinions on people and this gets him into trouble, with him often getting things wrong. This was very amusing at times as something would happen and he would think I got that wrong and then he would form another opinion only for that to be squashed as well, but all this makes for a great story.

He becomes a little obsessed during the novel with the Sharp Family and I couldn’t help but marvel at some of things he gets up to and how he gets away with it. It’s William’s thoughts and emotions that really make this book tick over, and at times I had sweaty palms thinking will he get away with it this time? I actually didn’t want him to get caught mainly because I wanted to know the next person secrets as well just like he did, which is wrong I know, but this book had that effect on me!

William’s relationship with woman was also a highlight for me, because he doesn’t really get a kick out of the relationship mainly because there is no challenge to it, he would prefer to do it in secret and yet again his dealings with this woman had me laughing.

Overall I thought this book was a breath of fresh air, I read a similar book last year called American Psycho, which I didn’t really enjoy, but this book had an effect on me. I really enjoyed William’s character, I can’t decide whether he is wrong to do what he does. You begin to realise he can’t help it and that’s what makes this story an excellent one.

 

The Perennial Migration.

The Perennial Migration

By Keith Brady

Bald Mage Rating 2/10

I would like to thank to D.M.Kirtaime for the opportunity to read his book for an honest review.

 

“Mother Earth herself needed to pull strings to help a most inappropriate group of candidates take command of the migration. To defend against terrestrial enemies, secure survival of mankind and the recovery of the planet.”

 

After the global war in 2040 social collapse around the planet occurred, then in 2053 the World Administration took form. Erecting huge domes around the planet, the World Administration began the split of the human race by only allowing the elite classes accesses. Administration centres soon opened allowing citizens a chance at recruitment tests for various trades which will be of use. Upon completion all those who failed the tests or unwilling to comply were left behind to survive in many of the ruined cities and towns around the planet. It wasn’t long before settlements formed around the outskirts of the domes, citizens trading and surviving off of the waist produced by the domes. This is where the chips were introduced to all those that had access to the dome network, and this is when the end began! And a new beginning!

Firstly let me say that the foundation of the story is a nice idea, with the prologue really setting the scene well. I loved the idea of dome constructions around the planet by a totalitarian organization after a cataclysmic war, the split of humanity is nice with the have and have not’s. I also liked the catalyst that set the ball rolling for the story, I just wish a little more was done with it, as I felt it didn’t realise its full potential as the story unfolded. Unfortunately for me things started to go downhill from here on out.

One of the first things that struck me was the amount of typos throughout the book and these did become quite a distraction for me; admittedly they did become less frequent towards the end of the book though. I feel this book would benefit from a lot more proofing as well as some good editing because I found on a couple of occasions a sentence would stop half way through and the dialogue would continue on to another topic, which was most frustrating.

I found the characters to be quite shallow and one dimensional with the dialogue between them sometimes infuriatingly unrealistic for some of the situations they found themselves in. I felt no connection with any of them save for maybe General Kern. Kern was by far the best character for me; he obviously came up through the ranks to his current position as general, he’s an impatient man who judges everyone by his own high standards and commands with an iron hand.

But by far the biggest irritant for me was the over explanation of things I as a reader couldn’t give a damn about ie; The leaf shaped things on its head were 3mm thick, the ship hovered 100 cm above the platform, his feet were 30 cm apart, he moved the chair forward so you couldn’t see the legs, really who cares instead concentrate on the explanations of things that matter. I want to know more about the other creatures that Thorn, Leo, True and Jessica came into contact with, I want to know how these things came about. Instead we have no idea where the forest lot came from and we only get a lame outlining of the main protagonists origins that quite frankly felt like it was an afterthought and just slotted in.

Which brings me nicely onto my next gripe; throughout this entire story I didn’t get the feeling of hopelessness from any of the characters. They went along happily with every situation they came across; from the rise of the main protagonists to the acceptance of other species they sort help from. For me this is where the story really fell apart, in this seemingly advanced society that can create huge domes to live in and all that goes with them, were are the weapons? The idea of an advance civilization, that doesn’t possess weapons to fight off the invading species, is beyond belief for me and the last straw. There is no fight from anyone in this book, instead what do we do? We run away, and leave everything for them even though all they’ve got are clubs and shields Ooooo scary.

All -in- all, this book felt like an old B-movie from the 1970’s with substandard characters thrown into the mix. I like to be sucked into a book and be transported right into whatever scene I’m reading about, alas for me these were just words on a page. These are just my opinions and I’m sure there will be others who like this book; sadly I can’t count myself amongst them.

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blakes 7 Drones: Review

23355451Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 7.5/10

‘Systems that you were able to access easily are suddenly closed to you. Nothing responds. So you feel challenged. Threatened. That’s why you’re running scared. You’re terrified there’s a mind out there that’s cleverer than you are.’

 

PLOT:

The assistance of the Liberator crew is urgently needed on Straxis – but Roj Blake has acute problems of his own…

After taking drastic emergency measures, Blake, Vila and Cally teleport back into a war zone in a bid to make new allies.

But the Federation is testing advanced new weaponry here. And Vila looks set to be an early target…

 

REVIEW:

Each story I listen to from this range of Blakes 7 audio’s just keeps getting better and the actors are getting into their old roles.

Firstly let me start with Marc Platt downing the Liberator under the sea so it can repair itself in peace while hidden. In the TV series for a ship so powerful the Liberator was very static at times and rather clumsy, you didn’t get the feeling the ship could land on any planet, so for the ship to nose dive into the atmosphere of the planet Straxis and then into the sea was just great to listen to!

This audio takes place directly after Battleground which I have previously reviewed so check it out. With the Liberator damaged and under the sea Blake decides to go back and find the people he left at the end of the last story, but much to his dismay he discovers he is in the wrong zone of the planet and meets another group of rebellious people who are basically lab rats for Federation experiments.

The experiments are a new form of Nano-drone that is like a mosquito; it locates it’s victim and bites he or she to infect them with a virus that makes them overheat to the point of them exploding and to make things worse the Nano-drone will fly and observe the victim dying! Understandably Blake wants to put a stop to this disgusting weapon and I can’t say I blame him.

The action, this time around, is well split between the characters with Cally and Jenna getting more action. Villa unfortunately is one of the people bitten during the story and he knows he is going to die but Michael Keating still plays it in a way that had me smiling which is strange really, but deep down and with the chronological order in which these audio’s are set I knew he wouldn’t die.

Blake didn’t have as much to do this time around but he got a dose of being a celebrity that has let his fans down. I know this feeling, when you watch a hero on TV as a kid and you go to meet the actor who plays them and they turn out to be a complete ass, so I did sympathise a little with Blake because he does have this status he has to live up to but it’s not always easy to be a hero.

Now I come to my favourite parts and this concerns Avon and the super intelligent computer Orac. One the things I liked about the TV series was this relationship and it features well in this story, I could listen to Paul Darrow question this arrogant computer all day mainly because the writing is perfect for the characters. Avon begins to see that Orac has a paranoia and it’s inability to move becomes apparent as Orac mentions;

‘I am intellectually superior, so why do I remain subject to the capricious whims of less rigorous individuals’ 

Overall this audio series just keeps getting better and better. I’m hoping that I will get to listen to Space Commander Travis soon as he was a brilliant enemy throughout the early years of Blakes 7 so hopefully my wishes will come true.

 

The Way of Kings Review:

7235533Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 9.5/10

‘Life before Death.
Strength before Weakness.
Journey before Destination.’

 

PLOT:

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armour that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

Review:

I want to start this review by describing the actual hardcover edition, there has been a lot of time and effort put into this book; it is simply fantastic to look at on the inside as well as the outside, the diagrams and sketches throughout the book were beautiful to look over and quite frankly puts any other book I’ve read in the last five or six years to shame. But is the book as good as the art work?

Firstly I must state this is my first ever re-read of a novel, as I read this when it was released way back in 2010, and for years I’ve been telling my fellow smooth headed friend Keith to read it. But for some reason I never got around to reading Words of Radiance the follow up to this book. But with this novel being part of the Two Bald Mages series read for 2018, I decided to start from book one to refresh my mind, which can be a dangerous thing to do as I had very epic memories of my first read and I was afraid that I might spoil them.

The Way of Kings felt like an epic movie with commercial breaks to split the action up. I will enlighten my readers into my insight, the book consists of one prelude, one prologue, seventy five chapters split into five parts with interlude chapters in between each part and finally to end the book an epilogue. So good value for money with the book being over a thousand pages long.

Like most Sanderson novels the opening prologue was simply fantastic and if you’re a fan of Sanderson’s work then you will know what I mean but for fresh readers out there that haven’t read a book by the author, then I will say he is one of the best prologue writers ever, he really knows how to grip a reader from the off!

After all the excitement we settle down into learning about our three main protagonists Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar and these three characters all share one thing in common; they all carry a burden with them.

When I first read this book I found that Kaladin was my favourite character but this time around however, I didn’t get that vibe which was sad. I think this may be because I remembered a lot of his story from my initial read in 2010 so some of the impact was lost. But Kaladin’s character has more book time than the other two, and you get to learn of his resentment for the Lighteyes during his younger years, as well as his personal failures which ultimately lead him into despair. Sounds like a grim plot I hear you say? Kaladin’s story is similar to Spartacus, from being an upcoming promise, to becoming a slave, to rising again to lead and unite men who would surely have died with out him, it truly is an epic ride to read, as we see this man become a symbol, a living banner to destroy! However for me it was better the first time around.

This leads me to Shallan; a young lady who has the burden of trying to help her family from going under because they are in so much debt, but the family has a plan and Shallan is key to this plan. She has to become a ward of a heretic scholar named Jasnah, this story line really gripped me mainly because I’d forgotten it, it has been eight years, so I’m glad I got to refresh my memory. Shallan really shined in this book, she deals with a great pressure which she carries brilliantly and shows great resolve in putting her plan into action, even fooling the great woman herself Jasnah. Also these parts of the book enlightened me as reader about the history behind King Gavilar’s dealings with The Parshendi. I just enjoyed Shallan learning from Jasnah and she learns quickly for one so young but she also shows her age in other instances that lead her into trouble, her scenes with her sketching pictures were a particular highlight to read.

Now for the old veteran Dalinar Kholin, nicknamed the BLACKTHORN! This old buzzard is a HighPrince of Alethkar and he is one of the most honourable men you could read about, although he has a tough time in the book. Dalinar has a burden of every time there is a highstorm he goes into a state of void and experiences visions, for the reader this is pivotal information into the history of this new series Brandon Sanderson is creating and he uses Dalinar to great effect to give you the reader a great backstory to chew on, but for the characters witnessing Dalinar’s burden it is a sign of weakness as they think he is losing the plot. He begins to quote an old language that no one understands, which in turn leads to insecurity among his family and his men, as well as the King and the other High Princes. Once Dalinar goes into action it is simply breath taking to read about, his battle scenes with his Shardblade Oathbringer are excellently written much to the same standard of the Mistborn novels, Sanderson knows how to write good action sequences and never lets me down with them!

I now move on to the interlude chapters; the author gave me a subtle taste of other areas in his new world with various characters having a page or two of book time, I rather enjoyed these chapters they split the book up nicely. I particularly enjoyed the Spren collector Axies, he was an amusing character, but the star of the interludes is Szeth the Assassin in White. I think he could be the best character in the book which is a little absurd as he hardly features, but I was perplexed by this character’s skill and his mysterious nature and customs, but again he has a burden of being under an oath stone; who ever has it becomes his Master and this leads to some interesting scenes as some of his Masters are unaware of Szeth’s true power, but it isn’t long before some one learns of his true skill and puts it to an evil use.

Much like the Mistborn saga Mr Sanderson enlightens the reader into a new fantastic magic and armour system, you will get to read about Shardblades, Shardplates, Gem hearts, Soulcasters and Spren of all kinds which I’d completely forgotten about until this re-read. There is one Spren in particular that goes by the name of Syl who attaches herself to Kaladin, who at first mistakes her as a WindSpren. She has a pivotal role during proceedings with Kaladin’s development throughout the story. They have a similar relationship to Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, and at times this beautiful Spren has many words of wisdom for young Kaladin.

The action and battle sequences mostly concerning the war against the Parshendi were excellent, it reminded me of a few historical novels I’ve read in the past. I do think Mr Sanderson would make a good historical writer as well, as he knows how to put together a good battle scene that grips the reader; a skill that could grip other genres if he ever wants to try to pen something different in the future.

I must give a special mention to the character Wit, he intrigued me throughout the novel, always being one step ahead of the game, knowing a lot more than he should, you can sense a burning intelligence within the character which I enjoyed massively.

Overall I loved the book just as much as my first read all those years ago, I have to say I’m happy I re-read the story as I had forgotten many elements that needed to be refreshed in my mind, but unlike last time I won’t hold off reading Words of Radiance, in fact I’m going to dive in head first, this second!

Also I have a new motto I will take up in life, which I got from this book, a quote from Dalinar where he states;

“I am not ashamed of what I have become, Other men may debase themselves to destroy me. Let them have their glory. For I will retain mine!”

 

Elysium Fire Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 7.5/10

ARC from Orion publishing Group for an honest review, so a massive thank you!

‘As you say – I’m a godlike intelligence. The only thing that concerns me is other Godlike intelligences’

PLOT:

Ten thousand city-state habitats orbit the planet Yellowstone, forming a near-perfect democratic human paradise.

But even utopia needs a police force. For the citizens of the Glitter Band that organization is Panoply, and the prefects are its operatives.

Prefect Tom Dreyfus has a new emergency on his hands. Across the habitats and their hundred million citizens, people are dying suddenly and randomly, victims of a bizarre and unprecedented malfunction of their neural implants. And these “melters” leave no clues behind as to the cause of their deaths…

As panic rises in the populace, a charismatic figure is sowing insurrection, convincing a small but growing number of habitats to break away from the Glitter Band and form their own independent colonies.

Review:

This was a pleasant experience; it was a nice read considering it was a second book of a series, also this was my first ever Alastair Reynolds novel so I was keen to get started.
The first thing I picked up on quickly with the story was the fact it nearly mirrored todays political stance, with Britain pulling out of the European Union. I don’t like to bring politics into my reviews but unfortunately I couldn’t help but spot it with dialogue such as;

‘Instability in the Glitter Band affects all of us, Supreme Prefect. Our trading arrangements go back a century and a half. Can you imagine how concerned we are, with the orbital community threatening to tear itself apart?’

The first character that sprung to mind was a character called Devon Garlin who stirs up trouble with claims that Panoply are nothing but tyrants and habitats of the Glitter band should leave and claim independence and I couldn’t help but think of former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and yes I used Farage’s voice for Garlin but to good effect in the instance of one of Garlin’s rousing speech’s he utters;

‘Is it against public order to state the truth?’

I couldn’t help but think of Farage saying this with that silky smile on his face, most of Garlin’s dialogue amused me throughout the book.

The Panoply and it’s Prefects, who keep law and order in tact was a nice idea and I like the weapons they carry which are called Whiphounds, which I enjoyed immensely once they are engaged into action. The action mainly follows Field Prefect Thalia and Prefect Sparver early on, and it was interesting seeing these characters deal with their jobs as they have completely different approaches to their duties.

However the most interesting Prefect is Dreyfus, as he attempts to find out the cause of  many sudden deaths almost to the point where the Panoply are beginning to panic, as the organisation has to deal with rogue leaders such as Devon Garlin as well as having to deal with all these mysterious deaths, which has now been codenamed, (WildFire)

One of the biggest questions for me was; was it readable as a standalone novel? After debating this, I came to the conclusion that it is readable, it took me a while to work out certain things such as; Aurora a female computer intelligence that often pops up to annoy Dreyfus, who is also obsessed with finding out about the Clockmaker? I got the impression early on this plot thread must have happened in the first book, but this didn’t detract me at all, in fact this spurred me on because now I want to find out what happened in the opening novel as I enjoyed the scenes between Dreyfus and Aurora the most.

The story ticked over at a nice pace building the mystery nicely which is a sign of an author who has written many novels. The action was good and there were some really good ideas such as; being able to talk to the dead to gain information, it’s been done before I know, but it worked nicely during the Wildfire crisis. One of the highlights were the Twins; Julius and Caleb, who have some interesting abilities, I found myself getting sucked into their plot thread and wondering how they would influence the story as the twins have completely different mind sets on what they born to achieve.

Overall I enjoyed my first experience with Alastair Reynolds as a writer. I liked the style, it flowed with a grace which made me unaware of time as I read which is always a sign of a good book.

This book will be released on 25th January 2018.

Queen of the Struggle.

Queen of the Struggle (The Memory Thief #2)

By Keith Brady

Bald Mage Rating 9/10

 I would like thank Angry Robot books and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.

The last remnants of the tyrannical Tathadann regime have all but been wiped out! Finally the city of Eitan can know peace; finally the people can decide for themselves after years of oppression the right way to govern their city. However as so often happens one regime is replaced by another, and not 24 hours after the celebrations of victory the citizens of Eitan are faced with such a dilemma.

Henraek Laersen and Emeriann Daele are not only lovers but fighters in the rebellion against the Tathadann. Jubilant at their final victory they stand together and honour those that helped and those that fell trying to gain everyone their freedom. Now they stand aghast at what’s taking place in front of their very eyes as everything they fought for now falls apart. As Ragjaron soldiers descend upon them Henraek and Emeriann are separated and hauled off in the face of a betrayal they can scarce believe is happening…..again!

This is their story, a story of rebellion, subterfuge, trust and ultimately betrayal, for Henraek and Emeriann their first thoughts are for each other, their boy’s; Donael and Cobb and then; just how the hell are we going to get out of this one?

Firstly I’d just like to add that upon receiving The Queen of the struggle I was unaware that it was the second book in the series. So I found it quite difficult to relate to characters and past events (to start with anyway), so I was very reliant on this book being a solid story that could be followed. So you could imagine my delight when my hopes turned into reality with this little gem of a book.

The Queen of the Struggle centres on two main characters; Emeriann Daele and Henraek Laersen. Both of whom were prominent figures in the rebellion against the Tathadann. Now they face a new regime from their former allies. I must say I was quite shocked at just how quickly this took place, they really didn’t mess about. Emeriann and Henraek were quickly subdued and separated, obviously they are the biggest threat and key figures to obtain support from. As a result Henraek along with the boys are taken to the city of Vargmannskjor at the request of Odven Asyr who is the leader of the Ragjaron and rules Vargmannskjor. Thinking them barbarians (as they were portrayed by the Tathadann regime) Henraek expects the worst, but what he finds is nothing short of mesmerizing and he is in awe of what he sees.

Emeriann on the other hand is held by Brighid Morrigan who has taken controll of Eitan. Brighid subsequently tries to convince her that her vision of Eitan is the right one and wants Emeriann to stand with her to realise her vision of what Eitan should be. As you can imagine this is met with mixed emotions from Emeriann. And Emeriann not only has a fight on her hands with regards to Brighid and her new regime, but also she has to deal with her own conflict with-in, and that can be more destructive than anything else, something Henraek has to deal with as well.

I have to admit I really couldn’t fault The Queen of the Struggle, for me it had some really thought provoking moments none more so than with Henraek and his son Donael. When in Vargmannskjor, Henraek has many concerns; Emeriann for one, his own situation and what Odven wants of him and keeping his sons protected from the wars influence. Unfortunately this is impossible as the boys have witnessed so much already so they’re in the middle of it like it or not. Donael is off an age where he questions Henraek about everything and Henraek is scared he will turn out to be like him, which is the worst outcome he can think off. The dialogue between the two was really well done and for the most part I found myself sitting with them listening whilst the conversations took place a good sign in my opinion.

The whole idea of rebellion, war, anarchy was excellently portrayed by Nik Korpon, thinking about this whole situation was very entertaining. The problem with the whole utopian ideal is commendable but in reality giving a city back to the people so they can in-turn decide what’s best themselves will ultimately be disastrous. Because what’s acceptable for some isn’t for others, so divisions will always arise. Hence dictatorships, Regimes tend to rear their ugly heads and so it was with The Queen of the Struggle.

So to that end I was pleasantly surprised by this book and really enjoyed it. I will defiantly be going back to see how this all started, and for anyone who has read the first in the series you’re in for a real treat with this one.

Thanks for reading.