Tag Archives: heroes

Friday Faceoff – A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown… Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is a HERO, so I’ve selected The Lost Hero – Book 1 of The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riodan.

 

This edition was produced by Disney-Hyperion Books in October 2012. I really like this cover featuring a wonderful steam-driven dragon, which rightly has pride of place in the middle of the cover. The green light suffusing the backdrop ensures the metallic colouring is nicely thrown into relief. The title and author fonts are clear and inoffensive, if a tad boring, but this cover is a strong contender – even if said hero doesn’t feature all that much.

 

Published in October 2011 by Puffin, this is a really dramatic offering. The steampunk dragon is still featuring – but the lower half of the cover is given over to the young hero plunging towards the ground. It is a startling, eye-catching image. Unusually, the series details are given more emphasis than the title or even the best-selling author. While this is unquestionably a dramatic cover, it doesn’t look so effective in thumbnail.

 

This Italian edition, published by Mondadori in September 2017 has featured the lost hero of the title. The silhouette of the slumped figure depicts utter despair. With the birds pouring out of him as he dissolves, it is an arresting image that snags attention. I would love it even more, but for the fact that it fades into black both top and bottom. This means the artwork only extends over half of the cover, which is a shame, given how brilliant it is.

 

Produced by Boekeri in September 2012, this Dutch edition is more successful. I love the dramatic colouring and the protagonists staring at the devastated cityscape while that amazing mechanical dragon is also nicely featured. Those flame colours in the backdrop really jump out. I also love that border edging the whole cover which gives it an extra dimension. This is my favourite, though it’s a close-run thing between this one and the cover below.

 

This Russian edition, published by Эксмо in October 2010 has us back in the air with that wonderful mechanical dragon again. This is another cover that tells a dramatic story, with the city in flames and that amazing building featuring behind the lovely red and white font. I really like the fact that we can see the characters so clearly on board the dragon. Which one is your favourite?

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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