We Will Build (Kurtherian Gambit #8) ★★★☆½

wewillbuild (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: We Will Build
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #8
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 356
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Things are REALLY starting to move. A Forsaken from Asia pops her head up to cause problems and Bethany Ann and her Chosen smack her down so hard it’s not even funny. Michael and BA hook up. The Analyst woman from the previous book realizes she is the dupe for a super black agency and asks BA and Company for help. Said Black Agency realizes something is going on at the former military base and sends in a spy. Who gets captured by some vamp guards and everything he knows is dragged out of him.

The scientists are planning for a moon base and buy some land in a South American country that never participated in any legal agreements about Space. Therefore the shell company doesn’t have to worry about any superpowers making legal claims. They send a bunch of sealed containers into space to make the first Moon base and televise it. BA’s way of letting the world know her Company exists. Also a way to draw in more manpower. BA is also thinking about making more vamps as regular humans just can’t handle everything she needs handled.

ADAM begins taking down malicious hackers and working on a way to stop the Chinese dead in the water, as they have backdoors all over the world.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better than the previous book. No crap at the end of the book.

This wasn’t so much a book as I think of it, with a beginning, middle and end like a traditional novel. This was a very long chapter in the saga of Bethany Ann. It’s what happens when writers go “serial”. Not necessarily a bad thing but something to be aware of.

Time is something that I did notice that wasn’t handled real well. A character makes a reference about something that happened early and uses the words “years ago”. While it was true, almost no thought is given to how time passes and so it becomes a non-starter for the reader. It does make it feel like everything is happening within a month, even as you know it is physically impossible.

My final complain, before I start on the positives, is how BA is gathering power to herself and the author excuses her tyranny (and trust me, it IS tyranny) is how good and wonderful she is. There are no checks and balances. BA is the ultimate Mary Sue and she’ll never have a bad day or kill people wrongly or do anything wrong, thus it is ok that she’s the End and All for any decision. I realize this is fiction, but ignoring human nature so blatantly is a bit off putting. I would certainly oppose her if she was a real person with that kind of power. Every imperfect Power needs a Check of equal power. And since she’s sexing it up with Michael, no one else is even close to being able to keep her accountable.

On to the good stuff.

I really liked the whole space/moonbase side of things. Showing the world they exist and are making a run to colonize the moon was great. It also opens up writing options for Anderle. He can now use shadow’y government agencies from the world over to be the new bad guys since BA has basically taken down every Forsaken. I hope we get some more creditable bad guys, as the Forsaken have been steamrolled in every instance.

Speaking of steamrolling, the action scenes were once again pretty good. Anderle might not write the best fighting scenes ever, but he writes what people who are reading this kind of book are looking for. I was satisfied.

After the last book where I questioned if I could continue the series this book brought me back on track and I foresee no problems as long as things stay at this level.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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Grave Thief (Twilight Reign #3) ★★★☆½

gravethief (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: Grave Thief
Series: Twilight Reign #3
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 548
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

With the fall of Scree, the gods have been enraged at what the Shadow has done. Unfortunately, all this has accomplished is to make the priest of various gods more warlike and to incite them against their own citizenry. This in turn places a huge strain on the Kingdoms that are trying to oppose Styrax and his Menin, who are taking city after city.

Styrax’s goal is to take all of the crystal skulls and to become a god himself. He is studying a puzzle at one of the conquered cities and unearth’s another skull. He also happens to set free its guardian, a very big and very cranky dragon.

While this has been going on, Isak has been trying to keep his kingdom from tearing itself apart. The priests are out of control and have hired their own mercenaries to act as their law. Eventually Isak declares a Crusade against Styrax and his godless Menin. This accomplishes getting all the nutjob priests out of the way and allows Isak to oppose Styrax and hopefully slow him down before he reaches Farlan.

At the same time, Azeur the Shadow has been born in human flesh. He attaches himself to a duchess of one of the soon to be conquered cities so as to remain under the radar from King Emin and Isak. He sets priest and citizen against the other so that at the right time they will look to him as a savior. He is growing at a rate of years in months time and at the time Styrax takes his city is about 5 years old.

Some of the gods, the lower hierarchy, realize that this time is an opportunity for them to rise. As such, they begin bonding with mortal humans and creating a new level of human power structure. Duke Vesna, one of Isak’s closest allies, is one such human. How it all plays out and what the final cost will be is yet to be seen.

The book ends with a battle between Farlan and Menin. Isak knows he can’t best Styrax so he follows a plan (that is unknown to us the readers) hatched by his Secretary of Everything. Isak kills a huge amount of the Menin with magic and then kills Styrax’s only son. Styrax kills Isak and sends him to hell using the power of his crystal skulls.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better. Now that I’m not floundering around trying to get adjusted to Isak as a character, I could concentrate a bit more on Azeur and Styrax. Of course, with Lloyd killing Isak right at the end, I’m not sure WHAT the next 2 books hold. I highly doubt Isak is “really” dead though. If he is, then I’ll be wicked pissed off in the later books.

I still have issues with Lloyd starting a chapter and not naming the character we follow until several pages in. It is annoying. Plus the character point of view shifts with only an extra line break still gets me. I’m getting better at picking up on those though, even if only subconsciously. I guess Lloyd is training all his readers to be his own personal cadre of Manchurian Candidates.

I didn’t like that some of the characters we’d really been invested in in previous books, King Emin, etc, were sidelined. I almost feel like I need to re-read the first 2 books just to place the new’ish characters like Styrax and his son into better context. I know I read about them in earlier books with all of my attention on the main character, what they did has slid right out of my mind. I think that comes down to the author not handling multiple characters and locations as well as he needs to.

There were also a couple of places where the words that were written weren’t the words meant. I can’t bring any specifics to mind but it is the kind of thing that needs a copy editor to look over and find.

On the positive side, what I am reading is reminding me and more of what I read, and liked, in the God Fragments series. The similarities in authorial voice are much more noticeable. Whereas the first book of this Twilight Reign series had me scratching my head over the fact that the same author wrote them, now I can see it. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kneel or Die (Kurtherian Gambit #7) ★★☆☆½

kneelordie (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: Kneel or Die
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #7
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

There is one son of Michael left, one final Forsaken, who is defying Bethany Anne. He begins the process of a multi-prong attack based on what he learned from the last attack in the previous book. However, BA and Michael teleport in and Michael simply kills him. Bam, Forsaken are no longer a problem.

BA has been pushing for space worthy vehicles and her crew is really pushing themselves to get this project off the ground. BA needs a moon base to get out of the control of Terrestrial Powers. The team uses the new and improved vehicles on several missions and being able to get from one point on the Earth to another in a matter of minutes makes them even more deadly.

ADAM continues to grow and confronts a group of chinese government hackers. Now some part of the world knows it exists.

At the same time, the Team begins going after some terrorists that had struck in France. They begin hooking one member after another and working their way up the food chain. BA simply disappears each victim into the Etheric. No body, no mess, no evidence. This does lead to a lowly analyst at a small government agency discovering the disappearances and she begins tracking them. She realizes that “somebody” is making raids into foreign countries and killing people. So she sets out to track down this mysterious group of blacker than black operatives.

The clock is now ticking. BA must get her defenses in order: militarily, politically and technologically, as she is about to be discovered by the world at large.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity has reached stupid levels now. It’s not all the time. It’s almost like Anderle has a checklist and there is one scene or two exclusively written so BA or one of her teams can simply swear in the ridiculous manner that Anderle has plotted. It simply is annoying and trying to figure out how I can just skip over it in future books.

I felt like the whole Forsaken problem was wrapped up way too easily. It was like the Forsaken were setup as bowling pins and then between BA and Michael, the author knocks them all down with a spare. It was rather anti-climactic. Hard to believe the Forsaken were such a problem if they were taken care of so easily.

Unfortunately, at the end of the book the author felt the need to include pages and pages and PAGES of reviews of previous books. Even more tactless and stupid was the fact that he RESPONDED to those reviews in the book. I believe most of them came from Amazon, so I’m not sure how he legally did that(Anderle being an indie I suspect he just did whatever he felt like without giving 2 figs for anyone else). Who the feth does he think he is doing something like that? If I found out he’d done something like that with one of my reviews without permission I’d buy a plane ticket to the nearest metro area, gear up and hunt him down for being the sick son of a bitch he is. This was completely inappropriate to be included in a book, without even going into the legal side of things. I knocked off a whole star for this section. Things like this are why I detest indies in general.

Other than those 2 major items, this was fun, just like all the previous books. There are some real kick butt action scenes and the little bit we get to read about TOM and ADAM and their interactions are fun. Anderle also pulls no punches about terrorists and what religious group they mainly come from. Of course, he soft peddles it with some pretty Politically Correct appeasement language but considering how blinded the West is to Islam, that really isn’t surprising, even if just a bit disappointing.

I really liked the whole Analyst figuring stuff out. It wasn’t that she was a super character but the implications are pretty important. Of course, Anderle will probably deal with that in the same way he dealt with the Forsaken. He seems to be much better at setting up cool scenarios than in writing them out with the right balance of tension and “the good guys win”ness.

There are 15 or 18 books in this particular series. I was sure I was going to be able to work my way through them all when I started but after this one, I don’t know. Him including and responding to reviews really undermined the enjoyment I had experienced. It tainted everything.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Twilight Herald (Twilight Reign #2) ★★★☆☆

twilightherald (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: Twilight Herald
Series: Twilight Reign #2
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 564
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Some city is a convergence point. Fell powers are gathering, whether crystal skulls or beings of power. It is all being orchestrated by some non-god, non-demon entity who hates the gods and wants to show mankind how powerless the gods are. It does this by enspelling an entire city to go mad and to kill as many people as possible.

Lord Isaak is there to gather up a spare crystal skull, or two, if he can manage it. Various characters from the previous book are also there on different pretexts, but it all comes down to everyone being manipulated by this being.

Where Lord Isaak was supposed to be the Savior of Prophecy but isn’t due to him breaking the chains of Fate in the first book, a new white eye is claiming the title. The same white eye that killed Lord Baal, Isaak’s mentor.

All the main characters survive the city’s destruction but alliances aren’t as strong and it looks like the New Savior is a protege of this Entity, the Shadow.

 

My Thoughts:

Enjoyed this but still had some serious issues.

The style choice for paragraphs. In a chapter there might be several changes between characters or location and this change is only shown as a new paragraph. The problem is that it is exactly the same paragraph style as when you stay with one character and you have multiple paragraphs. It is very disconcerting to be reading along and then realize that you’ve changed character, time or place with NO warning. There are multiple ways to accomplish, most of them quite easy, so I’m guessing Lloyd didn’t read his own book after he wrote it.

My other main issue is how big, epic AND mysterious this is trying to be. A lot of things are thrown at the reader with no explanation and where this worked for me in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series (due to excellent writing and just enough hints to keep you from falling on your face) here it feels like the author has just left crucial information out of the readers grasp. I was really struggling to figure out just what was going on. It doesn’t help that half the time I’m re-reading a paragraph or two to readjust my thinking about WHO I’m reading about now.

What I did enjoy about this book? Let me tell you.

A whole city going mad due to a malevolent spelled carved into the walls of a theatre and in the flesh of the playwright. Near the end Isaak ends up calling 5 aspects of Death to protect him and his allies and ends up having to face down several of the Aspects. The whole idea of a shadow entity working against EVERYONE for goals only it knows. A white eye that can kill legendary vampires and not blink twice about it.

This time attention is scattered around more and I wish things had focused more on Isaak. He’s definitely growing on me as a character and I’d like to see some real character growth, as he’s at the age where that happens quickly and shows quickly as well.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Under My Heel (Kurtherian Gambit #6) ★★★☆½

undermyheel (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: Under My Heel
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #6
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 306
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

BA and Michael and the rest of the Queen Bitch’s Guard must take down the Forsaken so that they can begin dealing with the potential threat from space. At the same time the military has begun sniffing around the AI project. BA is going to have to accelerate her plans in acquiring a secure military base where she can move the AI and begin producing prototype starships.

The remaining son of Michael, the most powerful of the Forsaken, sets a trap for the Guard and eventually BA herself. BA and her crew get to test themselves against a whole host of nosferatu and have a test run of their new attack ships.

Of course BA and Co are successful, in just about all their endeavors. The ambush is unsuccessful, the military base is procured, the prototype ships a success and the AI is moved into the Ether and begins learning with TOM as a (rather unsuccessful) gatekeeper.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity is just stupid. It’s not amusing, it’s not actually profane, it’s just an ignorant stringing together of as many curse words as possible. It felt like a teenager trying to show how tough he was by saying everything he knows he’s not supposed to.

I had fun reading this even while knowing the outcome. BA is just so powerful. But that is ok because I’m not reading these for dramatic tension but for butt kicking action, which is delivered in spades.

Sorry, I just don’t feel like writing and I really don’t have anything else to say. These are popcorn books. So if you like that, great. If you want epic fantasy or {L}iterature, then this won’t do it for you. It really is that simple.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Stormcaller (Twilight Reign #1) ★★☆☆½

stormcaller (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: Stormcaller
Series: Twilight Reign #1
Author: Tom Lloyd
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 516
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Isak is a white-eye, a special sort of human that tends to be bigger, faster, stronger, longer lived and more angry. White eyes are something either the gods created or magicians and are now simply part of life. Isak’s father blames him for his birthing killing his mother. Isak has been taken under wing by a retired “Ghost” soldier who has taken up the gypsy life and trained as much as a young man can be.

When the gypsy train is confronted by a high ranking White Eye, who claims to have come from the lord of the land, Lord Bahl, Isak refuses the summons but the gypsy train as a whole begins making their way to the Capital. Once they reach the city the men of the train work themselves into a drunken stupor and try to kill Isak for bringing them all to Lord Bahl’s attention. Isak makes it to the palace and is given refuge. Turns out he is supposed to be Lord Bahl’s heir. He is trained by a swordsmaster, given a magical suit of armor and a magic sword (from the elf warrior who started the revolt against the gods thousands of years ago and killed a bunch of them) and finds out that he might be the focus of a prophecy predicting the rise of the Elves, the fall of humanity and yet another round of god-slayings.

While Lord Bahl and Isak get along, they are both powerful white eyes and Lord Bahl sends Isak to a neighboring kingdom to learn as much diplomacy as is possible. Isak is beginning to surround himself with his own group of people so when the time comes for Lord Bahl to die, he can step in and rule the Land, with all the blessings of their god.

Mischief is afoot though and the neighboring kingdom is at the focus of several plots by powerful factions, all of whom want to control the Prophesied One. A coup is planned and while the king knows of the coup, he is counting on Isak and his soldiers’ help in overcoming it. Isak sees Lord Bahl cut down by a mysterious figure in black armor in a vision during the battle. He then gets the blessing of the storm god and uses that power to smash those attempting the coup.

He meets up with some rebel Knight Templars who believe the prophesied one is to be their ultimate leader. They present Isak with two Crystal Skulls, which are artifacts of great power that can kill even the gods. It turns out to be a trap and Isak must face down the mysterious knight in black, who is the original elf warrior. Isak defeats him and now that prophecy has been turned aside, decide where to go next.

 

My Thoughts:

First, I did enjoy this. This review probably won’t reflect that and neither does the rating, but there is reason for that. I am very glad that I started reading Lloyd’s work with his God Fragments before this. Those were well written adventure stories with fleshed out characters and well crafted writing.

This book, and I’m guessing the series, is a very much a first attempt. Too many instances of things being described that don’t advance the story and just bloat up the word count. I could tell the author was trying to flesh out characters or situations but it wasn’t done right and just made things feel long. Transitions between scenes was horrible. A double line break was all we got, within chapters. I don’t know how many times I had mental whiplash trying to get my head around that we were now on a boat where as in the last paragraph the whole group was riding horses and would be days into some vast plain.

There were a lot of names thrown about. Honestly, outside of the group of 4-5 people that Isak began surrounding himself with, I found it overwhelming. Especially so as I never knew until much later if this character was going to stick around or be central to the story or was just a one-off. The author tells a LOT of history and sadly, it is handled roughly and confusingly.

I don’t know if it was just the edition I had (I’m reading the omnibus edition ebook offered through Amazon) but near the beginning of the story there were at least 5 instances of a word missing and “[MISSING]”, all in caps just like that, inserted in its place. It felt like I was reading a scanned copy of a paperback version that had been OCR”d and then not hand checked.

With all of that being said, I did enjoy the book. The author can write great fight scenes and that makes up for a lot. I also like the core idea of the story and want to see where it all leads. Having read his God Fragments series, I know he doesn’t stay at this level of ability. I’d like to see if I can watch progress through the series.

If you want to check out Tom Lloyd, start with his God Fragments books. If you like those, then come back to check out these earlier works. Don’t start with these as they’re not representative of what he is capable of as a writer.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Never Forsaken (Kurtherian Gambit #5) ★★★☆☆

neverforsaken (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: Never Forsaken
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #5
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 328
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Bethany Anne (henceforth BA), must deal with bringing the Were into her elite Guardian Group. Pete takes on that chore and he and another recruit slug it out at the end of the training for Alpha status. Pete takes it and BA finds out from TOM that the Were are actually another line of nano-tech from a competing Kurtherian clan. BA and Tom experiment with Pete to give him a man-beast form. They are successful

BA also deals with having a dog be in the medical pod and having TOM messing with it. It seems to be a battery for the Etheric and allow BA to travel 1000’s of km at once instead of just mere kilometers.

BA also tracks down two of the top Forsaken in South America and deals with them. She rescues Michael in the process and as penance for not dealing with the Forsaken centuries earlier puts him in charge of South America.

The 2 scientists awake their AI. Bobcat begins working with a rocket scientist to develop a strike craft for both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial purposes.

 

My Thoughts:

Once again, I had a blast reading this. It still does feel like Anderle is putting too much of various characters into the books, hence cutting down the time we get with them. The balance isn’t right.

Also, while I enjoyed this as much as the previous books, if not more due to BA taking out the 2 top Forsaken, the rushed nature of this volume really stood out. Several spelling errors, sentences that weren’t cleaned up or had had 2 ways to go and weren’t completed properly, little grammar things here and there. I’ll keep reading as long as I enjoy the story but these little things make me leery of recommending the books because it screams “unprofessional”.

Lots of fun and excitement as long as you don’t mind the indie lack of concern.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)