Posts Tagged ‘Liams Review’

Guardian of Dawn is a free short story ebook by prolific Black Library author, William King. King is best known for his Space Wolves and Gotrek and Felix novel series set in the Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy settings respectively.

While only a short story, you can’t complain with the excellent writing quality and price in this little teaser of a tale that leaves you crying out for more.

Kormak is a knight within the order of the Guardian of the Dawn, a sect that is sworn to uphold an ancient treaty protecting the Children of the Sun from the Shadow or those known as the Moon’s Children.

Kormak first appears to us grievously wounded and banging on the door of a farmer’s cottage. Through a round of banter and persuasion Kormak is given entrance. In hindsight this might not have been the most fortuitous of situations for either party.

The farmer’s daughter is being threatened by the Children of the Moon. The farmer and his family beg Kormak to protect them and honor his order’s oath. Being the man that he is, Kormak is obligated to fulfill their request. While confronting his adversary the Shadow, an uneasy truce is formed; however,  even with that pact a morose conclusion is brimming on the horizon.

An astounding short story, made even more enjoyable by its free price tag. I can easily envision a wide series of short stories about this knight’s order and their quests compiled into a dazzling anthology.

As far as free short stories go, this deserves every bit of its 5 out of 5 Liams rating.

If authors of outstanding novels could be compared to baseball players mashing mind-blowing homeruns, then Madeline Ashby would test positive for a high dosage of synthetic steroids and robot growth hormone.  A captivating conglomeration of Stephen Spielberg’s A.I., a little mix of I, Robot, and even The Matrix seem to infiltrate their way into vN, Ashby’s first novel with Angry Robot Publishing.

A “young” von Neumann (vN) robot named Amy, lives in a healthy, happy, family environment with her human dad and robot mom but all that changes in a blink of an eye when granny decides to show up. After wholly devouring her grandmother, Amy unknowingly is infected with her crazed grandmother stuck inside her. Suddenly, innocent Amy isn’t so innocent after all and “… the failsafe that stops all robots from harming humans has failed..,” which makes Amy target number one in literally everyone’s eyes. Thrust together with an unscrupulous vN known as Javier, Amy is forcefully shoved down into the rabbit hole and has little hope of coming out unscathed.

Swivels and pivots in the story keep readers on their toes till the very end and even then there is no guessing in which direction this book could end. Though not my normal read, the ideologies for both the vN robots and the organic humans were played out admirably and realistically with varying and conflicting viewpoints.

The technique for authors known as world building can make or break a book. Another book reviewer, Shadowhawk, touches on the vital importance of the creation of a rich world in his review of The Hammer and The Blade by Paul Kemp. Ashby mirrors her very own creation, Amy, within her games she plays in the book, both of them designing vivid and fantastical creations down to the most miniscule detail with this under-appreciated skill which sometimes defines the difference between a good author and great author.  The garbage dump, the destroyed city of Cascadia, and the fabled vN safe-haven of Mecha are all beautifully designed places within an extremely developed world.

The underlying tones of pedophilia and vN abuse by their organic creators play a crucial role behind otherwise ulterior motives. Also, the fact that a  “global mega-church named New Eden Ministries, Inc,” was the prime investor for creating the von Neumann-type robots in an attempt to give companions to those left behind after the Rapture makes me smile inside at its paradox.

The writer inside me wishes the ending of this wonderful novel would have traversed across different paths, but in its conclusion Ashby had another, more astonishing finish you won’t see coming. It was close to a perfect 5 out of 5, but I found a few actions from my favorite character, Javier, to be contradictory to his current set path in life. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Liams.

Here is the link to learn more about Madeline Ashby and her book, vN – The First Machine Dynasty.

(vN Robot Liam is trying to eat some synthetic keyboard food)

Paul S. Kemp’s The Hammer and the Blade, reads like a game of chess, only the pieces roam chaotically about the board as if all decisions made are congruent to the die cast by one of the main character’s favored dice. A unique character cast, Nix the Quick and Egil the Priest add a refreshing splash and vibrant flavor to the book. Nix, a thief who once dabbled in magic and Egil, a man wielding twin hammers who is devoted to the dead god of moments keep you turning the pages if only to see what disaster they find themselves in next.

The book’s beginning thrusts the reader into an Afirion wizard-king’s tomb and dishes out the initial dialogue between the two tomb robbers. Their conversations and banter seemed a tad forced; however, the deeper you delve into this entertaining sea of swords, magic, and creatures from hell, the smoother Nix and Egil fall into their intrinsic behaviors of shouting crass insults at those who threaten them with death or worse. The bond of friendship held between Nix and Egil is well deserved, as they save one another throughout their adventure countless times.

Nix and Egil are forcefully traipsed across a cursed land by the Sorcerer Rakon, of House Norisstru, in a reckless attempt to save the lives of his sisters, or so he says. So when time is running short and Rakon’s vile intentions are revealed will Nix and Egil be the kind of men they want to be, or will they slink back to Gadd’s altar and drink themselves blind to the atrocities soon to be committed.

The fighting style of our heroes is a thing of beauty for the imagination to behold. The combination of brute strength, lightening fast agility, crushing hammer blows, and a bit of magic thrown around here and there creates the perfect ensemble. Without giving away too much, the transmutational magic entrance was cleverly crafted and well done. Spellworms, Vywnn, The Demon Wastes, The Archbridge, Ool’s Clock, The Eater, and the Ruins are all excellent conjurations within Kemp’s fevered mind. The ever-changing tattoo of Ebenor’s eye upon Egil’s shaved head is something few authors could so succinctly construct in its continued usage within the story,  I found the placement in which the tattoo was mentioned and its descriptions brilliant.

This world of Afirion magic, Dur Follin, The Slick Tunnel, and The Warrens each have their own individual distinctive dark and forbidding texture. The character growth in this book is monumental and at some points perhaps a little extreme. Sell-swords might have a common bond against magic but is it strong enough to unite them in friendship after once being at each other’s throats.

With the upbeat whirlwind ending, I found myself wanting more – many, many more Nix and Egil adventures.  With this fierce and untamed fantasy world Paul Kemp has created, I see no reason why there won’t be a vast number of them in the foreseeable future.

I gave “The Hammer and the Blade” 4 out of 5 Liams, and highly recommended it to all. This has also been my favorite book thus far to come from Angry Robot Publishing.