The Dusk Watchman (Twilight Reign #5) ★★☆☆½

duskwatchman (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: The Dusk Watchman
Series: Twilight Reign #5
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 853
Words: 232K

 

Synopsis:

In the previous book Isak, using the power of the crystal skulls, forced the gods to remove the name of the Menin General from the world. This had the affect of cutting the heart out of the Menin army and allowing the Farlan and King Emin to survive to fight another day against Ruhen, aka Azeur the Shadow.

Azeur continues to collect more crystal skulls, as do Isak and Co. It is also revealed that Azeur has the Sword of Life and that he has some sort of plan for becoming the god of gods. It is up to Isak and Co to stop him.

Isak sets out on a quest to recover the Sword of Death, to counter Azeur’s Sword of Life. At the same time Emin raises the last army in the lands to go against Azeur and stop whatever ceremony he has planned. Unbeknowst to them all, Azeur has had this all planned out from the beginning and the recovery of the Death sword and the massive death toll that a battle will entail is exactly what he wants.

After several betrayals by supposed Allies everything culminates as Azeur tries to go from being just a shadow to a god of gods. Isak has realized his weakness, as a shadow, and uses that against him. Isak sacrifices his own life and binds Azeur to one of Isak’s allies, who dies. The ceremony goes through and makes Azeur the most powerful being, but since he is still a shadow attached to a human, it is more of a symbiotic relationship. This tempers Azeur’s control over the gods and allows the land to heal.

 

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t really paying attention when I started this book, so I couldn’t remember if it was the final book or if there was one more after it and I was too lazy to go look it up. (for the record, it is the final book) Part way through though I decided that if there was one more book that I wouldn’t bother reading it. I was bored and plot was overly convoluted and not particularly well executed.

That might very well apply to this whole series and it took me until this book to come to grips with it. This book wasn’t worse than the previous, even though my rating plunged. It was the accumulated burden of it all crashing down on my shoulders.

Boring and convoluted are the best descriptions I can come up with. Lloyd doesn’t write well enough to convey clearly what he is intending, or well enough that when he does reveal something that you realize what it is that he has revealed. I have to admit that I’m still very confused about the ending and how what Isak and Mihn (the guy who gets bonded to Azeur) did accomplished what the author said it did in the epilogue. Plus, Mihn was supposed to have died earlier in the book. How did he survive and get to where Isak and Azeur were? It was just a lot of little dots that were missing between the big dots that left me confused on how to connect them all.

After finishing this series, I wouldn’t recommend taking the time to read it. At over 3K pages and 1.1million words, the pay off just isn’t worth it. There are too many head scratching moments and poorly constructed sentences that left me going “huh?” to tell others to read this.

On the other hand, I do recommend the God Fragments series by Lloyd. Smaller in size, scope and characters, it is tighter writing and what THIS series should have had done to it. There are still awkward sentences but Lloyd seems to be getting over that, thankfully.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Knight of Stars (God Fragments #3) ★★★★☆

knightofstars (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: Knight of Stars
Series: God Fragments #3
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 472
Words: 128K

 

Synopsis:

The Cards have taken a small, easy job for Toil. All they have to do is bust into a small headquarters which owes a banking consortium some money and hold the place until the banking soldiers can establish control. It is easy as predicted and now everyone can relax in a city made up of islands. Of course, it is also Teshen’s old stomping grounds (he’s the titular Knight of Stars) and back in the day he was a big to do. He was exiled after a failed coup and him coming back is not something people want.

The islands are also home to the lands most powerful mages, which gives the islands their name, Mage Island (how original huh?). Toil wants to find a source of god fragment bullets as the stunts that were pulled in the previous book means that the main source of god fragments won’t be supplying her city. To accomplish this she dangles the marked Cards (those who all got a leaf mark from the magical tree construct) in front of the mages. She also takes up a contract with another mage to have her Marked Cards work on a duegar artifact.

The magical tree artifact from the previous book turned out to be a plug that the duegar used to seal a lot of magic out of the world. With the Cards having activated it, more magic is now available in the world. Do they learn their lesson though? Of course not. They proceed on their merry way and get a bunch of the lesser mages marked and powered up with this new artifact and release even MORE magic. Which has a lot of unintended consequnces. Like stirring up a double handful of the monsters that eat magic from the first book.

After a humongous battle in which they wipe out the monsters but the island is pretty much wiped out too, the Cards are forced to leave the Island as the inhabitants all want to kill them. They take several of the marked mages to be new Cards and return to Toil’s home city.

 

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not as much as the first book but I think that one, with Lynx as the main character, is simply going to be the high point of the series. I saw on devilreads that Lloyd stated there will be one more book in this series. I’m good with that too. Sometimes a series needs to just tell one story and then be done. I’m glad Lloyd has chosen that route instead of dragging this out forever, even if I am sad that he’s not going to be writing more about Lynx.

Each of the books’ titles has referred to one specific character within the Cards. First we had Lynx, then Toil and now Teshen. Sadly, neither of the latter hold a candle to Lynx. I’m glad that Toil and Lynx have hooked up simply because it means we get to hear more about Lynx than if he was just one of the main named characters.

I liked that the setting was very different from the previous 2 books. Both of those dealt with Duegar underground areas, while this was out in broad daylight on some tropical like islands. Of course, that doesn’t stop the monsters from being totally bad-ass and destroying everything they can. Lloyd can write some seriously awesome monster fight scenes. The Cards are as Black Company-lite as ever and come across as drunk, curmudgeonly and greedy, just like they are. It is fun to be honest.

The reason this gets 4 stars and not 4.5 or 5 is because Lloyd flirts with the idea of same-sex relationships without actually inserting it into the story. That is part of why I’m glad he’s ending this when he is. I’m a touch concerned that he’ll cross the line and I’ll have to stop reading him. This way I can finish the series and he can do whatever the frell he wants to in other stories and both of us, one as writer and one as reader, are happy.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Ragged Man (Twilight Reign #4) ★★★★☆

raggedman (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: The Ragged Man
Series: Twilight Reign #4
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 612
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

At the end of the previous book Isak killed the son of Lord Styrax, the most powerful man in the world. In his rage, Styrax did not just kill Isak, but sent him directly to Ghenna (hell) to be tortured forever. Isak had dreamed about this scenario and he and his friend Mihn, the failed Harlequin, had set in motion a plan. Mihn had covered himself in magical tattoos of invisibility to both physical and spiritual entities. With the help of a witch, Mihn travels to Ghenna and recovers Isak. Upon their return though, Isak is a thoroughly broken man and it is up to Mihn to nurse him back to some normalcy.

Styrax is a broken man by the death of his son and heir and it takes the child Azeur to snap him out of his funk and to begin leading his Menin army again. Azeur posits a passive coalition with Styrax without revealing it’s actual goal and Styrax agrees. Styrax forces a non-aggression pact with the Farlan since Lord Isak is dead and half their army destroyed. They accept since if they refuse they’ll face civil war. This allows Styrax to concentrate on the one man who might be able to stop him, King Emin.

Azeur has set in motion its plans for the Harlequin nation and has recruited them to act as preachers and messengers for it. They begin by slightly changing their stories to make the gods appear more buffoonish or tyrannical or any extreme than originally intended. The Harlequins also begin preaching about a child savior that will lead the entire land without any interference from the gods. King Emin sees the danger of this and hires men and women to kill these preachers. Many Harlequins are killed but almost nobody understands what is going on, as Harlequins have always been neutral parties before this.

Styrax and his army marches on the kingdom of Narkang and begins razing it to the ground. Isak and Emin concoct a plan, one throw of the dice, where all will be won or lost. Emin confronts Styrax and his army at a castle and a huge battle ensues. Isak catches Styrax in a trap because he doesn’t try to kill him. Isak forces the gods to help him and they strip all memories of Styrax from the land and take Styrax’s identity from him. Styrax is now the Ragged Man, a legend of a man who lost his soul and now kills in the shadows to try to get it back. The Menin army falls apart without any memory of Styrax but Emin and the kingdom of Narkang have paid for this victory in more blood than they can truly afford.

Azeur can begin its plans in earnest now that Styrax isn’t around to keep it in check.

 

My Thoughts:

You know, I’ve said it before, but I am watching Lloyd’s writing skill increase right before my eyes with this series. The first 2 books were pretty rough but now, things are flowing smoothly. His skill in handling multiple points of view no longer leaves me stumbling about and the awkwardness from before is almost gone. It’s not perfect, but it is noticeably different. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever noticed such a skill increase from an author before? Maybe I never started with one that was so amateurish though. But whatever, this was good!

Mihn’s journey to hell and back was a bit slow and not very action oriented. It had me worried that the entire book was going to be like that. Thankfully, once the main story switched back to Styrax and King Emin, things got moving. The battle at the end of the book was massive. It was enjoyable. It was everything I wanted from a big epic fantasy book.

While I had serious reservations about recommending this series based on the previous books, I’d now recommend this series as long as you’re willing to deal with Lloyd’s lack of skill in the first couple of books. I realize that is a back-handed compliment, but it’s the truth. But even with that, I’d still recommend starting with Lloyd’s God Fragments series. It starts off, skill-wise, where Twilight Reign ends.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)