Stands a Shadow (Heart of the World #2) ★★★☆☆

Stands A ShadowThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Stands a Shadow
Series: Heart of the World #2
Author: Col Buchanan
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Flintlock Fantasy
Pages: 481
Format: Digital Edition



The Empire of Mann begins it conquest of the Free Isles. The Empress goes along because she is pissed off about her son dying. The real ruler of Mann, an old magician, sends along a Mannian “Diplomat” (code for assassin) named Che to make sure the Empress never runs from battle or acts like a coward. He also sends along 2 other Diplomats to take care of the first Diplomat once his job is done.

The military leader of the Free Isles goes against all expectations and leads an army into the field to confront the Mannian host. Using even more unexpected tactics, his goal is to slay the Empress and stall the army until winter sets in. The Empress is killed by the Diplomat for trying to run from the fight and the Mannian army is divided as the general and a noble vie for control. The leader of the Free Isles succumbs to the pressures he’s been under and has a heart attack.

Che realizes his life is over since he killed the Empress and begins a running fight with the other 2 Diplomats. He survives and hooks up with a girl from the Free Isles and is trying to start over. He accidentally reveals that he is from Mann and the girl turns him into the authorities.

Meanwhile, Ash, the Farlander from the previous book, is trying to assassinate the Empress himself. He finds out that Che is an ex-Roshun and has betrayed the Roshun and that they are destroyed. The book ends with Ash asking the surviving Roshun to fight the Empire of Mann while he goes on a quest to bring his dead apprentice back to life.


My Thoughts:

If you divide this book up into 100 parts, not even 1 part would be “magic”. It’s definitely Flintlock fantasy, but the magic is so under utilized that I really hesitated to even call it “Fantasy”. It is also very bleak and borders on the Grimdark.

It was written well and at no point was I jarred out of the story. That being said, I also never wanted to “read more” if I had to stop for bedtime or something else.

However, I won’t be continuing this series for the following reasons. The nobles of Mann regularly partake in orgies of sex and drugs and while nothing is graphic, there are enough objectionable things mentioned that I want nothing to do with it. “Magicless” fantasy doesn’t do it for me. Bleak doesn’t do it for me. In general, the whole world and all the characters just leave me feeling very blasé. Blase doesn’t do it for me either, in case you were wondering. Add in the fact that it took me 3 years to even search out the sequel to Farlander and that tells me something too.

Now I just have to decide what to replace this series with on my kindle. I’ve got the Caverns & Creatures series by Robert Bevan or the Dead Enders trilogy by Mike Resnick. Decisions, decisions.


bookstooge (Custom)





Guns of the Dawn ★★★★☆

dawn (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission



Title:        Guns of the Dawn
Series:     ——
Author:   Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating:    4 of 5 Stars
Genre:     Flintlock Fantasy
Pages:     673
Format:  Digital Edition



Denland and Lascanne, two countries, allies. Until Denland overthrows its King and begins to make war on Lascanne. Inspired by their King, the people of Lascanne give their all. They sacrifice and sacrifice and things end up with a draft of the women from each household, as all the men have already been taken.

We follow Emily, the middle daughter of a noble family which is now impoverished. A brother-in-law has gone, the only son drafted, food slowly disappearing, bandits appearing, no news from the front. And to make things even better, the man who drove her father to suicide many years ago is in charge of the town. But Emily is a fighter and she does what she can to keep her family together and functioning.

When Emily gets drafted, she is sent to the Front in the swamps. She learns about war, about the leaders of her country and in the process learns a lot about the Denlanders. What she learns shakes the foundations of everything she thought she knew and that knowledge will lead to make a decision that will affect both countries.


My Thoughts:

First, only ONE bug reference. Considering how much time we spend in a swamp, I was expecting a lot more.

If I had any doubts about Tchaikovsky’s writing ability [and after 12 books, you’d think I’d have made up my mind. Go figure], this put them to rest. This was really, really, really well written. There were a couple of instances near the beginning of the book where I just didn’t like ANY of the characters and I was wondering if I’d have to DNF the book. But what it did was make the characters deeper and fully fleshed out.

Tchaikovsky continues his little fight against authority. If someone is in authority, they’re lying bags of excrement and what is Right is actually Wrong. Having read Spiderlight, I saw the whole Denlander/Lascanne thing coming from a mile away. I really hope he doesn’t keep this up in future books because it’s getting a bit tiresome. Sometimes Right actually is Right. Just accept it.

Emily was a great character to follow. Her romance with Cristain was such a slow burn, it reminded me of an Austen romance. Then when she has feelings for a Warlock, instead of being a love triangle that I hated, I actually liked it. You could totally see this happening in a war. Nothing is clean cut or easy. It’s as messy as the mud the soldier wade through day after day. It made sense, it fit with the characters and it never felt forced or drama for drama’s sake.

The ending, with Emily having to make a decision about continuing the war against Denland or to put her heroic role away, was great. I didn’t know which way she was going to do, whether she would pull the trigger or not, until I read the sentence. Isn’t that exactly what we’re looking for as readers?

Great book, well written, lots of fun.



Farlander (Heart of the World #1)

4d339c706e83b86a639be27c99be36f5 This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.\



Title: Farlander

Series: Heart of the World

Author: Col Buchanan

Rating: 4 of 5 Battle Axes

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 402

Format: Kindle



Ash, a Farlander and an assassin, is forced to take on an apprentice. Soon after the apprentice’s training is finished, an assignment comes up that will take them into the heart of the Empire to kill the prince.

The Empire knows they are coming.


My Thoughts:

Much more than just an assassin story. A full blown, Empire growing, religious strains, etc, etc. It also does not have a happy ending.

And yet it drew me in, kept my attention and interest and even when things happened that I wasn’t expecting, or liked, it was ok. I’ll definitely be checking out the second book in this new series soon.

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1)


This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at by express permission of this reviewer



General Tamas overthrows the king of his land because said king was going to pretty much sell the country out to pay off his debts.

Only problem is, there’s a god’s curse. So Tamas not only has to deal with making his country work again, but plan against an invasion and investigate what this god’s curse is and what it means.


My Thoughts

This was flintlock fantasy. So while I liked it, it was grim, gritty, dirty, bloody, smoky and violent. I also liked the idea of there not only being magicians, but also people who could use black powder to power themselves up.

As for characters, it was a real mixed bag. General Tamas is a control freak who wants things done his way the first time and if it doesn’t work, then somebody didn’t follow orders. His son, Taniel is considered to be one of the most skilled of the Powdermages, but he’s addicted to powder and is snorting the stuff the whole book through.

And those are the good guys.

Turns out that the god, Kresimir, was real and because Tamas has killed a king, he’s coming back to destroy the land and start things over. And we find out Kresimir isn’t the only god kicking around. Then you’ve got the magicians, who all hate powdermages and a foreign power getting ready to invade.

This was not a light read. At over 600 pages, I felt like I’d been dragged through the blood and muck right along with everybody else. Betrayal, distrust, weakness, disbelief, helplessness, all were there in spades. The bright hopeful spots were few and far between. Definitely not something to read if you’re feeling low or depressed.

I found the writing itself to be topnotch. I don’t normally like or continue reading very dark and gritty books but I do plan on reading the short stories and the rest of this series when it comes out.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Author: Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood

Powder Mage #1

The Thousand Names

The Thousand NamesThe Thousand Names

The Shadow Campaigns #1

Django Wexler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I actually started reading this because of the author’s name. I kept singing “Django, Django Wexler, King of the wild Vordanians” [sung to the tune of Davey Crockett] until I got sick of it. Then I sang it a couple more times 🙂

I liked the story a lot more than I thought I would. Not a big fan of the musket era of weaponry, but this worked well.

However, due to some of the morals the author introduced, which I’m guessing will be expounded on in later books, I’ve decided that this will be enough for me.