Tag Archives: Andy Remic

Sunday Post – 18th September

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Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It feels like a long time since I touched base with everyone here, as I wasn’t around for the Sunday Post last week having gone to stay with my lovely mother. We don’t see enough of each other, though thank goodness for Skype. But we had the loveliest time catching up and hitting the shops for some retail therapy at Castlepoint on the outskirts of Bournemouth. It was also Himself’s birthday and as it was a Big One with a zero on the end, he asked for a guitar, which he duly got.

harleythedavidsonsWhile staying with Mum, Robbie contacted me to say that the mini-series, Harley and the Davidsons would be showing, so we had the pleasure of settling down to watch him on TV together as a family. It was a thoroughly entertaining story and I wouldn’t have known he wasn’t American as he’d absolutely nailed the accent as Ira Mason, while his grandmother didn’t recognise him in in the period costume.

Last Monday, I was back home again and off to London with Sally and Tim to attend the BGC Charity Day at their HQ at Canary Wharf – an amazing experience. We were there to represent the Caudwell bgccharitydayChildren’s charity, who have supported Tim with a variety of treatments and therapies not available on the NHS which have been instrumental in helping him overcome the more distressing symptoms connected to his autism. There were a constant stream of celebrities who went up to the trading floors to help close deals, where the commission went to an impressive list of charities. Tim, Sally and I had a fabulous day and he coped brilliantly with a completely different day to any other, as well as the trip up to London and back.

You won’t be surprised to learn that writing has taken something of a backseat this last couple of weeks. I haven’t done all that well on the reading front, either:

The Fettered Flame – Book 2 of The Shkode series by E.D.E. Bell
thefetteredflameThe Fettered Flame is a genre-bending fantasy novel that continues the saga of two dying worlds, plagued by their own unique struggles for power. Follow the journeys of Cor – a woman striving to understand her powers of magic and how the connect to her past, Atesh – her contemplative dragon companion, and Jwala – a dragon plunged into a rebirth of ancient ideals.

I really enjoyed the intriguing world Bell has set up. Two worlds have been accidentally sundered by one of Mother’s children while she was observing them. One is peopled by humans and the other by talking dragons who adorn themselves with jewellery and scarves, each believing the other a myth. Both societies are intolerant and prejudiced – the human society refuses women any agency other than staying at home and raising children, while the dragon society is ruled by the paranoid and aging Zee. As the two worlds become increasingly shaken by earthquakes and natural disasters, their societies are also churned up and Cor, a female scholar with an outlawed tattoo on her midriff teams up with Atesh, a dragon who manages to travel through a portal between the worlds.

 

Twilight of the Dragons – Book 2 of the Blood Dragon Empire by Andy Remic
During a recent dwarf civil-war deep under the Karamakkos Mountains, the magick-enslaved twilightofthedragonsdragonlords have broken free from centuries of imprisonment and slaughtered tens of thousands throughout the Five Havens before exploding from the mountain and heading in fire and vengeance for the lands of Vagandrak. Two once-noble war heroes of Vagandrak – Dakeroth and his wife Jonti Tal, an archer and scholar, the Axeman, the White Witch and a Kaalesh combat expert find themselves in a unique position: for they have discovered the ancient dragon city of Wyrmblood, and a thousand unhatched dragon eggs. Dakeroth and his companions must work with their enemies, Skalg and the Church of Hate, in order to bring down the dragonlords and save the world of men and dwarves. But there is no bartering with these ancient dragons; for they seek to hatch their eggs and rebuild the cruel Wyrmblood Empire of legend.

While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book in the series, the amazing The Dragon Engine, the story still pulled me into the world and I’m keen to discover what happens next.

 

Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn
childrenofthedifferentNineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and either emerge with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals. In the great forest of south-western Australia, thirteen year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

This post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy mash-up immediately feels different in that Flynn vividly depicts the Australian landscape, which features throughout, helping to define the mood and frame the action. I quickly bonded with the main protagonists, especially Arika, but I can imagine any teenage boy would equally enjoy reading and identifying with Narrah’s adventures. It is a relief to read a YA book that is absolutely age-appropriate – I’ll have no qualms in offering this read to my granddaughter in another year or so, when she is old enough to appreciate it.

My posts last week:
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* The Fettered Flame – Book 2 of The Shkode series by E.D.E. Bell

Teaser Tuesday – featuring Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Twilight of the Dragons – Book 2 of The Dragon Blood Empire series by Andy Remic

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Children of the Different by S.C. Flynn

Friday Faceoff – A Bouquet for you, M’Lady… featuring The Just City – Book 1 of the Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton

2016 Discovery Challenge – August Roundup

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Killer Apps for Writers http://writerunboxed.com/2016/09/17/killer-apps-for-writers/ by Bill Ferris, one of my favourite regular contributors to Writer Unboxed. This had me spluttering into my tea – I warn you – he REALLY means killer…

The Blog Awards! https://librarystaffpicks.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/the-blog-awards/ I was delighted to read that Ballyroan Reads – a gem of a site for booklovers – had been honoured with an award. They even were nice enough to namecheck yours truly at the end.

This untitled photo has stuck in my mind from this excellent site. Like all the great ones, it can be looked on several levels https://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/untitled-86/

The excellent Interesting Literature offered this interesting and shocking biography…
https://interestingliterature.com/2016/09/16/a-very-short-biography-of-anne-askew/ I hadn’t even heard of her – and I certainly should.

One of my guilty pleasures is visiting this site when I should be writing and enjoying John Grant’s excellent film noir summaries and discussions… https://noirencyclopedia.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/intruder-2011/

Seumas Gallacher writes about returning after a lifetime back to the place where he put down roots. https://seumasgallacher.com/2016/09/16/part-one-of-the-magic-of-a-return-visit-to-mull-in-the-scottish-hebrides/

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

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*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook Twilight of Dragons – Book 2 of The Blood Dragon Empire by Andy Remic

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I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, The Dragon Engine – see my review here. It was a rip-roaring, if often dark and violent adventure where our band of heroes are flawed and all too vulnerable. Remic successfully balanced the grimdark elements with a vibrant charm that made this a memorable read – would Twilight of the Dragons continue the magic?

twilightofthedragonsDuring a recent dwarf civil-war deep under the Karamakkos Mountains, the magick-enslaved dragonlords have broken free from centuries of imprisonment and slaughtered tens of thousands throughout the Five Havens before exploding from the mountain and heading in fire and vengeance for the lands of Vagandrak. Two once-noble war heroes of Vagandrak – Dakeroth and his wife Jonti Tal, an archer and scholar, the Axeman, the White Witch and a Kaalesh combat expert find themselves in a unique position: for they have discovered the ancient dragon city of Wyrmblood, and a thousand unhatched dragon eggs. Dakeroth and his companions must work with their enemies, Skalg and the Church of Hate, in order to bring down the dragonlords and save the world of men and dwarves. But there is no bartering with these ancient dragons; for they seek to hatch their eggs and rebuild the cruel Wyrmblood Empire of legend.

Actually, there are two sets of heroes – our original band of plucky adventurers, roaming around in the underworld domain of the dwarves and another set of equally violent adventurers who find themselves pitted against the lethal dragons. Is it confusing? Yes. The narrative is fractured with a fair amount of flashback as our hapless protagonists ricochet from one nasty situation to another – and Remic has not allowed for any bonding moment, providing a chance for us to reconnect with the protagonists who featured in The Dragon Engine, other than a few scattered recollections. I would have liked more than a hurried nod to the lovely scene at the start of the first book, where the whole hare-brained scheme is hatched out, reminding us why we care about these characters and their initial reasons for getting into this mess. As it was, I struggled to recall my connection with the original band of marauders – apart from anything else, those dragons are far too distracting.

The destructiveness and sheer power of Remic’s dragons is vividly described – to the extent that we are in the head of a small girl moments before she is crunched into small pieces. Far more enjoyable is one of our fighting band’s frantic efforts to injure or at least slow down on of the dragons by engaging her in conversation in an attempt to divert her before launching an attack. For me, that single storyline managed to recapture some of the charisma evident throughout The Dragon Engine. It’s not that this is a bad book – but that was a really exceptional adventure romp. While this one has plenty mayhem and violence, featuring many of the characters established in the first book, the humour and charm isn’t so evident. For me, this meant the constant swearing graunched and I winced at some of the more bloodily graphic battle scenes. The writing isn’t as smooth or accomplished, either.

That said, do I still want to know what happens next? Oh yes – Remic once more manages to take the story off into a completely different direction right at the end, leaving me fascinated as to what happens next. I just hope that in the next book he manages to find the rhythm that made The Dragon Engine such an exciting, memorable read.
7/10

Review of KINDLE EBOOK The Dragon Engine – Book 1 of The Dragon Blood Empire by Andy Remic

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Andy Remic has written a slew of science fiction and fantasy books with a military emphasis, so would I enjoy this latest offering by Angry Robot, set in the same world of his Rage of Kings duology?

thedragonengineFive noble war heroes of Vagandrak get drunk one night and sign a contract – to journey to the Karamakkos in search of the Five Havens where, it is written, there is untold, abandoned wealth and, more importantly, the three Dragon Heads – jewels claimed to give unspeakable power and everlasting life to those who wield them. But the Dragon Heads aren’t what they think, and the world has not encountered their like in generations… Think Smaug was fierce? You ain’t seen nothing!

And there you have the blurb. And do the dragons put Smaug into the shade? Oh yes – Remic’s specialty is writing full-on action and he does it very well. Once it all kicks off, he has the numerous fights bouncing off the page, packed with gory detail and yet managing to keep the narrative plunging forward. It’s a whole lot harder to pull off than Remic makes it look.

One of the issues I often have with full-tilt action stories is the fighting and mayhem comes at the expense of the characterisation and backstory – a potential trap that Remic manages to sidestep. This grimdark fantasy starts out with a band of heroes getting together a number of years after they had successfully fought off a terrible enemy threatening to sweep through the kingdom. When fearsome axeman Beetrax persuades his former comrades in arms to accompany him to search the network of mines left by the dwarves, now long extinct, to find the fabled hoard of the three dragons, I was under the impression I was about to get another Tolkeinesque adventure. And on one level, I did. There was more than enough danger to go around, often erupting when I wasn’t expecting it.

But this was so much more. Remic’s violence has consequences. People get hurt and are altered by what happens to them. The group dynamic is impacted, depending on who did what to whom. Great bravery doesn’t necessarily mean nice or generous-spirited. Beetrax may be hugely courageous, but he is also vain, greedy and selfish. Which didn’t stop me holding my breath on several occasions when I was convinced he was about to die, because Remic isn’t above offing one of his main protagonists, either. And despite his less likeable traits, Beetrax pinged off the page such that I cared what happened to him. The backdrop was well depicted, and kicked up a notch once we plunged under the mountain, deep in the mines with the dwarves, where the storyline took me by surprise. What eventually went down was unexpected and shocking.

If you are squeamish, then this isn’t for you. And if you have youngsters in the house, occasionally attracted to cool dragonish book covers to want to pick up your Fantasy offerings in passing, then keep this one out of their reach. The language is explicit and so is the violence. People get damaged – physically and emotionally. And we are pulled into their lives to care. I read the book on my Kindle on a train journey in a couple of sessions. I often find books read under those conditions don’t stick, but this one did. Remic is clearly a writer right at the top of his game, and while this subgenre isn’t my favourite, I’m certainly going to track down the next book in this series because I want to know what happens to Beetrax and his surviving companions. And those dragons…

My copy of this book was provided by the publishers through Netgalley, while my review is entirely my own work and opinion.
9/10