27 September 2012

The Dusk Watchman - Tom Lloyd

The BlurbAfter his pyrrhic victory at Moorview, King Emin learns the truth about the child Ruhen - but he is powerless to act. Instead, he must mourn his dead friends while his enemy promises the beleaguered peoples of the Land a new age of peace. The past year has taken a grave toll: the remaining Menin troops seek revenge upon Emin, daemons freely walk the Land, and Ruhen's power is increasing daily. And yet, a glimmer of hope remains. There is one final, desperate chance for victory: a weapon, so terrible only a dead man could wield it, and only a madman would try. But if they do not grasp this opportunity, King Emin and his allies will be obliterated as Ruhen's millennia-old plans are about to bear terrible fruit. If his power continues unchecked, Ruhen will achieve total dominion - and not just over mankind, but over the Gods themselves. One way or another, the future of the Land will be decided now - written in the blood of men.

I know I have not reviewed his previous books on my site yet, but I'm planning a massive Series Spanning review for later in this year. The Twilight Reign really deserves it, its beautifully complex without getting smug about it. That's why I'm not going to go into real depth here, this is just a shortened review today.

So, this was the final novel in the Twilight Reign series by Tom Lloyd. From the start it's been marketed as five books, and it stuck with that. No part one/part two nonsense that seems so prevalent these days. I really applaud him for sticking to this, since there are more than enough to this world to stretch the story out indefinitely.

What a damn perfect ending. Lloyd has tortured all of his main characters over five books. There aren't any present who does not have serious mental and usually physical injuries and scars. Start with Stormcaller and you would not stop until you reach the end of Dusk Watchman, that's a promise. The twists he worked into the series are massive and unexpected, and as a reader I enjoyed being surprised by good storytelling in stead of a magic bullet to sort out a problem or someone doing something brainless to afford another character an opening. 

This is the most underrated fantasy series out there. The characters are amazing, the sacrifices stupefying, the world is beautiful, the violence brutal.

The Twilight Reign has been on my Favourite Series list since I read Stormcaller years ago. It deserves it place right at the top, with this insanely epic final book.


20 September 2012

The Hobbit: An unexpexted Journey trailer

Three movies is frankly ridiculous for The Hobbit, but it looks awesome and I'm going to watch them all. Damn you Peter Jackson.

17 September 2012

Looper Trailer

I must say I'm looking forward to this movie. It looks like it will live up to all the hype!

12 September 2012

Emperor of Thorns teaser image

King of Thorns is still fresh in my memory, and now Mark Lawrence is starting the tease for Emperor of Thorns! Looking good, except that it could mean that Jorg killed the world and is the only one left...

10 September 2012

Stormdancer - Jay Kristoff

The BlurbA DYING LAND - The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST - The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shogun to capture a thunder tiger - a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shogun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT - Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shogun's hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he'd rather see her dead than help her. 

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

First things first, that is a damn pretty cover. I like everything about it. It's pretty enough to hang on the wall as a piece of art, but since I have a Kindle copy that wouldn't really work would it?

Now then, Japanese Steampunk. It sounds awesome from the word go and it does throw up a beautiful world to play in. The classic parts of the country are all there. The out of touch insane Emperor, who only has the throne because of his bloodline. The Samurai who value honour and duty above all else, the Bushido code and servitude their main focus in life. And the common people who grease the wheels of privelege and does all the damn work who are so used to the world being like this that rebellion is the unthinkable. 

Throw in a power-hungry guild who supplies the country with all it's power and innovation, wrap them in sealed armour, make them seem otherworldly and then you have a story! Oh, and chainsaw Katanas, which is just too awesome for words. And the Samurai's are basically tanks.

It says quite a lot about Mr. Kristoff's skills that the world he envisaged and built is so unique and special. The worldbuilding is done damn well, and since it is based on a culture that I'm not really familiar with, he explained it well without misusing the dreaded info-dump or through too much spoon feeding.

The first third of the story is what is explained in the blurb. It was an easy introduction into a world on the edge of environmental collapse. You got a sense of how the main characters think and got comfortable with them and Mr. Kristoff's writing style, and of course you know that Yukiko will meet the Thunder-Tiger. It didn't make it any less enjoyable to read.

The story from there is fast paced, with the back and forth between Yukiko and the Thunder-Tiger a highlight as the story commences. They develop and change as they get to know each other, and that sense of growth and love is a very nice touch.

The tale isn't without death and misery, but it's not the overriding theme in the book. The world is dying and the common people are being abused, but the overall feeling for me was one of  hope and trust, not misery.

The story isn't perfect, but of course no story can be. I felt the pacing was a bit tricky to get used to, especially in the opening few chapters. There are enough twists and turns to keep the overall arc interesting, but the ending wasn't a huge shock. It was very well done though.

Overall, this is a stunning debut by a very talented writer. The world he constructed here is unique and brilliant, but it does not overshadow the story itself. The characters are strong and interesting enough to live within this wonderous world without being swallowed by it. 

Buy it. Read it. If only for the Chainkatanas.