Friday, 19 September 2014

Book review: Half A King by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Half A King
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Published: 3rd July 2014
Publisher: Harper Voyager

Summary : Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, and traps and tragedy…

Review: So I may be a bit late to the party on the review side of things (especially considering I read this ages ago!),  but as Gandalf said (in the movies, not the books) "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to" and since we're over half way to the release of Half a World I thought this would be a good time to re-spread the love for this book, for anyone who's not yet had (half) a chance to read it. Sorry that had to be done!

 So I had never read a Joe Abercrombie book before, I'll be the first to hold my hands up and admit it. I'd seen them, I'd thought about it...but never taken the plunge. So I though this would be an interesting way to try out a new writer, and now I'm diving in the deep end.

What I enjoy about reading fantasy like this, is that over the course of the various books I've read, I've build my own mental framework of how lands and cities look, feel, act, react...and even smell (yes I said smell, and now you're all thinking about different smells your cities have so there!). What the books then do is add embellishment to my mental image, and I feel that this helps me get invested in the story from the get go, so whether we were on land or at sea, I had distinct impressions of the look of the land, and the turmoil or being on the ship.

"A King must win...the rest is dust". This was the first piece of the book I got to experience from the cover of my proof and that got the chills going, and that's always a good sign.

In many of these fantasy series the main character is normally broken in some way, and here what I feel is refreshing is that Yarvi is physically broken because this added a whole new dynamic to the ways in which he acted as a person and the ways the challenges and pursuits in this story were made different because of it. It is also a fantastic way to bring disability into literature, and to get people thinking about the challenges that disability brings to life.  

Another element I enjoy reading about is the different ways in which authors tackle the religion of their worlds...the Gods and Monsters that are ingrained in the history and culture of the land. Here I feel the surface was scratched, with mention here and there, but it is something that I hope is delved into as the series grows, I want to know about the breaking!! 

There was a fluidity to the writing, filled with twists, turns and a sharp tongue. The characterization was strong, with  a range of different characters who stood out individually yet effected each other. Over the course of the book they presented moralistic questions about actions and reactions that are taken in the book, which I felt gave the book that added depth you look for in a novel. It was subtle but evocative, and made my investment in each character ebb and flow as more information was gained, so that those I'd taken for granted, or not really cared about were given new perspectives as the story progresses. This is what I want from a book, to have opinions, and to then have them changed with plenty of "oooooh!'s" along the way.

I fought with and for Yarvi and I look forward to the challenges that are yet to come!  


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Bloodrush by Ben Galley Preview!

Hey everyone, Stephen here! Today I'm excited to be sharing something a little different with you all. Most of you probably aren't aware of Ben Galley...until NOW! Ben is the author of the epic 'Emaneska' series (which is one of my favourite series and should be checked out by anyone who likes fantasy), and is now embarking on his next novel Bloodrush, which is where things get exciting. To give you a little taste here's the prelude:

There are many places in this world where we humans are not welcome. Antarticus, for example, has slain explorer after explorer with its wolves and winds so cold and fierce they can cut a man in half. Or the Sandara, plaguing travellers for millennia with its fanged dunes and sandstorms. Or what about the high seas, and the Cape of Black Souls? Where the waves swallow ships whole, and never spit them back out. But there are darker places on this earth. Much, much darker places.These are places that time has forgotten. That we have forgotten, now that we've turned our attention to industry, to business, and to science. Our steam and our clockwork may have conquered the globe, but we have built our cities on old and borrowed ground, a ground that knew many creatures and empires before it felt the kiss of our own feet. These were the ages that spawned fairytale and folklore. Dreams and nightmares. The world that we trampled in our march for progress, burying it beneath cobble and railroad. But stubbornness is a trait of victors, so they say. The vestiges of this old world are still clinging on, hiding in the dark places, lost in the shadows, glaring at us from behind their magic. Oh, they are very much alive, friends. Hiding in the cracks of reality; the spaces between your blinks. And woe betide anybody that dares to go hunting for them. You would have better luck in the Sandara. Of course, you have known this all along. If you have ever felt the hot rush of fear in your stomach when a twig snaps in the twilight woods, then you have known it. If you have ever felt that chill run up your spine every time you cross the old bridge, you have known it. We humans remember the darkness very well, and how its monsters prowled the edges of our campfires and snatched us into the night. We simply refuse to acknowledge it is anything other than irrational fear. Ghost stories. Boogeymen. Old wives’ tales. Nonsense, though we secretly know the truth. So much so that when we read in the newspapers that a man was ripped to shreds by a mysterious assailant in the old dockyards last Thursday, we do not think psychopath, we think werewolf. Maybe we would be right.There are dark things in the shadows, and they are far from fond of us humans.

It sounds dark and gritty and everything I would expect from a Ben Galley novel! NOW onto the exciting bit (well I find it exciting...and I hope you do too). 'Traditional' ways of publishing are changing, and more and more the reader is getting involved, and one of those ways is through crowd sourcing. This is where the reader helps to fund the book and get's rewards for doing so! Primarily you'll get to read the book before anyone else, AND you get to say, I was part of that. There are some really cool rewards with this project, from merch to shoutouts, eBooks (including the Emaneska books, so you've no excuse not to read them), and exclusive artwork. I've taken part in projects like this before and for me it makes the reading experience so much more exciting as you get all the inside information as the project develops so the hype leading up to publication is immense because I know I've been part of this.

You can check out the project, it's rewards and read the first chapter of the book here:

The project, as I type, is 34% funded, and I think everyone should check it out and if they like what they see spread the word and get involved! I'm excited to read the book, share my thoughts with you, and I hope some of you will want to read it to!

Don't just buy a part of one TODAY!