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)

 

 

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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)

 

 

Bite This (Kurtherian Gambit #4) ★★★☆½

bitethis (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: Bite This
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #4
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 270
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

Bethany Anne and Crew have a lot to do.

One of their smaller companies has created an AI but didn’t tell anyone. They shut it down so there was no chance of it going all Skynet on the world. When BA finds out, she puts her father and some others on the case as they need some super intelligence to help guide them through the coming minefields.

The Company needs a military base as a “Corporate Headquarters” so they can start bringing their own people together, to work and to protect. If any nation state learns what BA is doing or capable of, they’re going to have to protect themselves. They also need a place where scientists can start studying TOM’s spaceship. The spaceship itself needs to be moved from the mountainous area to a secure birth on the super yacht.

BA has given the responsibility of getting Europe back under control to Stephen, another of Michael’s direct children. He has to deal with young vamps on the edge of becoming Forsaken as well as Pack politics. European Were haven’t been dealt with for decades and they are thinking that maybe vamps aren’t tough as all that. Stephen shows them WHY vamps are top of the food chain and Europe starts to settle down.

And if that isn’t enough, one of Michael’s direct children, now a Forsaken in South America, is attacking BA using political connections. BA has to figure out who the politician is and where this Forsaken is actually located. Then she can deal with both of them. Just to complicate things even more, it looks like this Forsaken has a secret formula for making Nosferatu more intelligent and even stronger.

 

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, while reading this, I had the Beach Boys song “Fun, Fun, Fun” running through my head. And BA’s daddy doesn’t take the t-bird away, so yeah, lots and lots of fun.

I complained about the last book introducing a ton of characters really quickly. Thankfully, it pays off here. The book cycles through quite a few POV’s which is only possible because of all the new people. I still say Anderle could have done it a bit slower but it isn’t something I can complain about in this book. Gabby the vampire ends up in the medical box and becomes an alpha vamp probably on the level with Michael. I’m surprised that BA isn’t running some of her own crew through the box to build up a small army of loyal alpha vamps. I consider BA to be Vamp Zero and maybe she doesn’t want any alphas going wild and blowing her cover and destroying her chance to bring the world up to readiness to deal the the enemy aliens. I don’t know. I do know that I would be biting my loyal guards until they were all vamps, especially since they would be daywalkers.

The whole AI storyline is just getting going. There is lot of relocation and talking and plans but the switch hasn’t been thrown yet to bring it back online. I’m definitely interested to see where this plot line goes.

There is a battle scene where Gabby saves a german shepherd by giving it her blood. BA also gives it her blood. So we’re going to end up with vampire dogs. I’m guessing Anderle will use them as Nosferatu detectors and such. I really didn’t care for this inclusion, as I’m not an animal person.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this. At under 300 pages, I felt like I just raced through it. I know Anderle has this series in omnibus editions with 3 books in each and I’m tempted to go that route just so I can get a big long draft of BA kicking butt. I know I won’t though, as I’d rather stretch things out and stay a little hungry than burn out. Nothing worse than burnout.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Love Lost (Kurtherian Gambit #3) ★★★☆☆

lovelost (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: Love Lost
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #3
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

BA (which abbreviation I shall use from here-on out instead of Bethany Anne), has to start getting a handle on the Empire that Michael has left to her. With hundreds of companies under her control and trillions of dollars at her disposal, BA can coast if she wants to. Obviously, knowing the threat is Out There, coasting isn’t an option. She has to start assembling a larger team that she can trust. A team not only for fighting the Forsaken but a team to start dealing with the spaceship that TOM came in.

So the recruitment begins. The Fighting Force is the easiest, as she starts picking up specialists that have been disillusioned with the military for one reason or another. The kind of people that don’t blink at finding out that vampires are real AND that they are expected to kill such super powerful beings. BA must also recruit information specialists, business specialists, etc, etc, etc. The list is long and she needs to start spreading the responsibility. So she recruits her dad, The General.

The other part of this book was taking the fight to the Forsaken who had attacked her allies here in the United States. Her and her team head to South America and take down one of Michael’s granddaughters. BA gives the children of said granddaughter mercy as long as they don’t hunt humans, thus assuring herself of more potential allies in the future. She also finds out that one of Michael’s First Children was ultimately responsible and BA realizes she has to take care of the Earth’s Forsaken before she can concentrate on any extraterrestrial problems.

 

My Thoughts:

This book had a LOT of character introduction going on. BA is setting up her own personal infrastructure and it is going to take a boatload of people. Trying to make 10+ people memorable and a character on their own is a tough task and Anderle doesn’t really accomplish it in this 260page book. I just don’t care enough about “Avengers, Assemble!!” for that kind of detail to keep my interest. It was half the book and while necessary for the overall series plot, felt very much like getting dumped on so Anderle could continue on in later books. Not cool.

The couple of battle scenes were enjoyable. I was hoping for a bit more in the fight scene between BA and the Forsaken she had to take down, but BA is just so overpowered that there wasn’t much of a fight. Maybe once she moves on to Michael’s First Children things will be a bit more even? Or even if BA’s fighting teams take them on, that might make for more interesting reading.

Overall, I did enjoy this but there was just too much setup that felt like setup. Hoping the rest of the books don’t follow this pattern.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Queen Bitch (Kurtherian Gambit #2) ★★★★☆

queenbitch (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: Queen Bitch
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #2
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bethany Anne must begin cleaning up the mess left behind by Michael. She has to start cleaning up the Forsaken who are starting to make inroads in North America due to Michael’s absence. She has to start putting Michael’s “good” children back on the straight and narrow and have them go back to their duties of keeping the supernatural outside of the purview of the normal world. She also has to put the Council of the Were in their place, as several members are thinking that without Michael around they can begin shoving the humans around, perhaps even ruling them.

While ALL this is going on, Bethany Anne also has to keep in mind that the overall threat is so much greater and her final goal must be to get humanity into space and ready to fight off potential hordes of ravening aliens.

Sometimes, being Queen Bitch just isn’t worth the hassle.

 

My Thoughts:

This was F-U-N!! Nothing deep, nothing worth a re-read but my goodness, Bethany Anne kicks some serious butt. She is pretty much a Mary Sue, but only if Mary Sue was a psycho violent vampire who was trying to protect the planet. I can handle that.

Even through all of this, Bethany Anne is still planning on just how she is going to save the planet. She might be violent but she’s not at all stupid. She’s beginning to make more and more use of TOM and she’s already thinking about how she can use its knowledge to grow humanity’s knowledge AND give her the funds necessary to build the space stuff that will be needed.

Thinking about this book, I would compare it to the earlier MHI books in terms of action and violence. I’d compare it quality-wise to the first MHI book as well. The thing that gives me pause is that Anderle has a bajillion books while Correia has a steady output of steadily increasing quality. I’m kind of afraid to find out where Anderle plateaus or even nosedives. That’s the only problem and that is all in my head.

I almost started in on the next book right away but thank goodness my inner core of self control kept me safe. Nothing is worse than having too much of a good time all at once.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)