Sunday, 24 February 2013

It Began With Ashes, D. E. M. Emrys

Publishers: Four Branches Publishing

Pages: 180

Main Characters:

Draven, Kale, Astartes, Damian

I’ve been looking forward to reading It Began With Ashes ever since I read David’s short story From Man to Man, which was sort of an interlude/teaser for this novel. I have to say that the book was worth the wait, as from the first chapter you are drawn into the story! The novel is based in the fictional world of Wroge, which after a time of invasion, war and conquest, has held an unsteady peace between the various Kingdoms and Clans for the last twelve years. The wars fought over a decade earlier saw the rise of the Arneutons, who now rule Wroge with a strict hand, and the exile of the Vikir, a fearsome tribe of horn-helmed warriors, that were banished to the icy wastes in the North of Wroge.

In amongst these tribes are the Keltir, a clan that fought for the Arneutons during the war. After their loyal service during the war, the Keltir are now forced to scratch out a living on the border of Wroge. The Torne, a subsection of the clan, mostly live in and around Hearth Village, which is only a short distance from the exiled Vikir.

On the road to Hearth Village, Astartes is nervous. From the seat in his father’s cart, he is convinced that someone or something is stalking them through the forest. His father tells him not to be ridiculous, as no bandits would dare attack them this close to the village and more importantly, this close to the Mercenaries’ Guild. However, Astartes is not convinced and as the cart passes through a dark clearing, he notices a human shaped figure watching them, but this is not what scares him the most, it’s the fact the figure is wearing a horned helmet…

Meanwhile in Hearth Village, Draven is part of the Keltir and has a dark and dangerous past. Serving as a mercenary, Draven fought during the Arneuton invasion and numerous other wars. However, after the birth of his son Kale, Draven gave up the hard but well-paid life of a mercenary to settle down with his wife and son.  Draven and his family managed to survive in the small village of Hearth after Kale’s birth. However, twelve years on, things have become dire and Draven must return to his job as a sword-for-hire to feed his family, much to the distress and anger of his wife Morganna. However, on the eve of Draven’s departure, fate turns against him and sends an old and dangerous enemy to Hearth Village resulting in Draven, Kale and Morganna’s world being turned to ash.

This book was great! Interestingly, when I was reading this book I was also listening to The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett as an audiobook. Both of these books are quite similar- they’re both fantasy novels and are set in a medieval sort of environment. However, out of the two novels I can honestly say that I preferred It Began With Ashes! As I said above, the vision of the helmeted warrior in the first chapter really caught my attention and after that, I was totally hooked with the novel!  I love that fact that you find out more about Draven’s past in this novel, whereas in From Man to Man it is left really mysterious.

I can’t wait for the next instalment of the Wroge Elements to find out more about Draven and Kale’s story! I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of fantasy novels. I also think that fans of The Warded Man would really enjoy this novel and should definitely check it out! I’d also say that you should definitely read From Man to Man before you check out this novel, as it really adds to the plot in this book. Plus, as a short-story on its own, it is a really great read! If you’d like to purchase either From Man to Man or It Began With Ashes, they are both available for Kindle at

For author’s official blog click here.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Book of the Month Competition for your chance to win a FREE copy of the The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe! To enter, just follow the instructions on this post and for more information click here.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Wolf Revenge, Susan Cartwright

Publishers: Hotspur Publishing

Pages: 358

Main Characters:

Ash, Larren, Neopol, Lindha, Rositha

Wolf Revenge is the second book in Susan Cartwright’s epic The Forsaken Worlds series. The novel picks up the plot straight after Wolf Dawn and sees our hero Ash, the Trueborn, set out on his mission to kill Larren Forseth- the man wrongly accused of killing Ash’s race! Ash tracks Larren down on the planet of Kalar and with the help of his love Lindha, sets off on his journey to the planet that is currently under quarantine.

On the planet’s surface, Larren Forseth is doing all he can to help the people of Kalar against the plague that has rapidly spread over the world. Larren came to Kalar five years ago in the hope of finding Ash and Ash’s mother. Larren needs to explain to them that he was framed for the genocide of Ash’s race by the evil genius that is Admiral Neopol Jones. Larren has no idea that the much older, stronger and revengeful Ash is coming to hunt him down!

Luckily, Larren manages to overpower Ash and convinces him that he is not his true enemy. Larren lets Ash mind-touch him and read his thoughts, proving that Neopol killed the Delians. After the experience of mind-touch, Ash and Larren become like brothers as they have shared their minds, thoughts, memories and bodies together. Larren agrees to help Ash gain the revenge he seeks against Neopol and with the help of a vision, forms a plan to kill the serpent-like Admiral Jones!

What the two new friends don’t realise is that Neopol has finally tracked them down! Neopol knows that together Ash and Larren are too powerful to capture. Instead, Neopol goes for the one thing that will bring Ash to his knees and that is Lindha! Ash and Larren must find a way to finally kill the evil Neopol before he tortures or murders Ash’s beloved Lindha. But, will the two heroes do it in time? Or will the cunning Neopol finally capture Ash and Larren?

This was another great read from Susan Cartwright! I think the reason I love this series so much is because of the technology and worlds Cartwright creates in her novels. I think this is most apparent in her small paragraphs that start each new chapter. Each of these gives a little bit of background from the world Cartwright creates (I believe it’s called Fluff?) and helps fill you in on past events which you may not have known otherwise.  In addition, the detail in describing the planet of Opan and its atmosphere and animals really makes the book great to read. This is because the detail makes the world seem much more real and believable.

 I also really liked the story, especially the end and the fact Ash and Larren teamed up to take on Neopol. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did with Wolf Dawn. I think this was because I liked Ash a lot less in this novel, as his wolf side seemed to take over a lot, making him irritable and irritating! Nevertheless, the book was still a great read and I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series!

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of Susan’s other book Wolf Dawn. I’d also suggest this book to anyone that is a fan of Seth Garnell’s futuristic novel The Freedom Club or if you are a fan of sci-fi novels and want to try something new.

For author’s official website click here.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Book of the Month Competition for your chance to win a FREE copy of the The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe! To enter, just follow the instructions on this post and for more information click here.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Book of the Month Competition- February

Well it’s nearly half way through February and I’ve got to admit, I’ve been very unorgainised with my Book of the Month Competition. I was planning on giving away a few copies of Wish which have been kindly donated to me by none other than Wish’s author- C. H. Aalberry.

However, as it is February (the shortest month in the year) and because it is already the 11th, I thought I should keep that great giveaway until next month. This is so that anyone who wants to enter the competition will have the full 31 days to get their entries in, instead of the remaining 17 days that are left in this February. Instead, I will be giving away another great book that opened my eyes to a whole new genre of reading and that book is…… The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe!

Now, I know this book is a Warhammer novel and that fact may put some of you guys off wanting to enter the competition. What I’d say to that is, please just give this book a chance! As a stand alone sci-fi novel I thought it was amazing and that’s why I’m choosing it as my Book of the Month for February (or what’s left of it!). So, if you are a fan of sci-fi, love Warhammer or just want to try something different, then this book is for you! So why not enter my FREE competition!

If you’d like to win this great sci-fi novel, all you have to do is click on this link to my Facebook page, ‘like’ my page and then write a comment saying you would like to enter the competition. If you are not on Facebook but are a member of Blogger, you can enter the competition by following my Blog directly through Blogger by clicking on the ‘join this site’ button on the right hand side of the page. You can also enter by subscribing to my Youtube page by clicking on this link here.

Remember it’s FREE to enter and it will not cost you a penny to get the book in the post. So why not have a go? You could win an excellent novel for absolutely FREE!

Good luck to everyone that enters, I hope you’ll have as much fun with the competition as I will. I’ll be choosing the winner on the 27th February . For further details on the competition, such as how the winner will be chosen and how the winner will be announced please click here.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

Publishers:  Pan Books

Pages: Audiobook

Main Characters:

Jack Jackson, Tom Builder, 
Prior Philip, William Hamley,

As you can see from above, I didn’t actually read this book as I got it with my free credit from I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages but because of its length, have always put it off! So when I got my credit all the way back in December, I decided I would finally listen to The Pillars of the Earth and see what all the hype was about!

As an audiobook the story was ok. The length (in time) of the book is just over 48 hours, which seemed to take forever to get to the end of. But to be fair to the book, I mostly listened to it when walking to and from uni/work and have only tried in the last week or so to make a big push to get it finished. It was narrated really well by John Lee but at the start of the book, Lee’s voice and accent were hard to get used to, so much so, that the way he said ‘forehead’ made me laugh a few times! Nevertheless, by the end of the novel I liked Lee’s narration.

The book itself is based in the 12th Century around the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral in Southern England. The novel is split up into a number of different stories and characters that all revolve around the building of the Cathedral. The main plots are that of Tom Builder, Aliena and the evil William Hamley and finally, Prior Philip. Each of these stories interact with each other and really explains the vastness (and length!) of this novel.

Tom Builder is as his name suggests a builder. Tom, his pregnant wife and his two children have fallen on hard times and as Tom can’t find work, forcing them to ‘tramp’ the roads looking for a construction site that Tom to work on. Unfortunately, Tom’s wife Agnes dies in labour giving birth to his new-born son. What’s made even worse is the fact that Tom has to abandon the new-born, as he has no milk to feed it with. Distraught and heartbroken, Tom gives up on life and wanders into the forest to die. Luckily for Tom, he bumps into Ellen and her son Jack.

Ellen heals Tom’s heart and eventually they fall in love. Ellen agrees to accompany Tom on the road until he can find work. The family ends up in Kingsbridge, a small Cathedral town where Tom hopes he can get work. It has always been Tom’s dream to build a Cathedral and he hopes that because of its run down state, he will be able to get a job rebuilding Kingsbridge. At first, Tom can’t get work. However, when the Cathedral is mysteriously burnt down, Tom is named the Master Builder and finally gets to live his dream of building a Cathedral.

Aliena is the daughter of the Earl of Shiring and is set to marry William Hamley, the son of a local property owner.  Aliena has nothing but contempt for the arrogant youth and refuses to marry him. This causes the Hamley’s to become the greatest enemies of Aliena’s father and when they learn that the Earl is part of a conspiracy against the King, they use it to get their revenge. William sneaks into the Earl’s Castle (at Earlscastle) and manages to capture Aliena’s father. As congratulation for the capture of a traitor, the Hamley’s are awarded Earlscastle and the Earldom of Shiring by King Stephen.

William goes to claim his prize but finds Aliena and her brother Richard still living in the castle. William and his men violently rape Aliena and throw her and her brother out of the castle. However, Aliena is not beaten and manages to build herself up as a rich wool merchant and finances Richard, making him able to contest the Hamley’s hold on their fathers Earldom!

Prior Philip is the hard working Prior of the small Cell of monks at the Monastery of St. John in the Forest. Philip believes that hard work gains reward (especially in the eyes of God) and runs his Cell extremely efficiently even though he is still only a young man! However, Philip’s life is changed forever when his brother Francis comes to visit the Cell. Francis brings news that the Earl of Shiring is the leader of a group of conspirators who want to depose the current King of England. Francis wants Philip to take this news to the Bishop of Kingsbridge and put a stop to the civil war that will un-doubtfully arise if the revolt is successful. Philip takes the news to Shiring but finds the Bishop isn’t there! Instead, Philip gives the new to the Arch-Deacon- Waleran Bigod.

After sharing the news, Philip returns to his Cell and finds out that the Prior of Kingsbridge is dead. Philip goes to Kingsbridge to pay his respects and is there convinced by his friend Cuthbert Whitehead to run in the election for the next Prior. Philip is aided in this by Waleran Bigod, who as an Arch-Deacon has a lot of influence over the Priory. All Waleran wants in exchange is Philip’s support for his claim to the Bishopric of Kingsbridge when the current Bishop dies. Philip agrees to give his support. What Philip does not know is that the current Bishop is already dead! When he finds out, he vows never to be man-handled by Waleran Bigod again!

My synopsis is only the very tip of the iceberg of what is The Pillars of the Earth and I hope it shows how these stories all interact and connect together. Overall, I did enjoy this book but at times found it repetitive, especially when it came to William Hamley’s attempts at sabotaging Kingsbridge. However, I really liked the fact that Follett added in historical characters such as Thomas Becket, King Henry and King Stephen. I thought adding these characters made the book much more believable. Moreover, adding events such as Becket’s murder really helped make the events in the book fit in with the context of the 12th Century, again making the book more realistic and believable.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of historical-fiction novels especially Dissolution by C. J. Sansom as that novel is also based around a monastery.

For author’s official website click here.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ravenwing, Gav Thorpe

Publishers: Black Library

Pages: 416

Main Characters:

Grand master Sammael, Brother Annael,
  Brother Telemenus

Ravenwing is the brand new book from Warhammer 40k writer Gav Thorpe and is the first of a new three book series called The Legacy of Caliban Trilogy. The book is also a sort-of sequel to the other Warhammer 40k book, The Purging of Kadillus that I reviewed a few weeks ago. In this novel we follow Brother Annael; a new recruit to the Ravenwing. The Ravenwing are a group of Dark Angels that are above the usual Space Marine. They ride around on giant motorcycles and land speeders and are usually used as reconnaissance for the Dark Angels when they are fighting battles or chasing down their foes. However, unknown to Annael until his acceptance into the Ravenwing, they are also used to hunt the Fallen, the evil Space Marines who turned on the Emperor during the Horus Heresy and killed their own Patriarch- Lion El’Johnson.
When a distressing signal is received from the planet of Piscina IV, the Ravenwing are sent on the hunt for a powerful Fallen Librarian. The Librarian manages to ‘turn’ the leader of the Dark Angels on Piscina IV, Grand Master Belial, (from The Purging of Kadillus!) and makes him doubt his faith in the Dark Angels, forcing him to kill himself and his brothers. However before his death, Belial leaves the leader of the Ravenwing, Grand Master Sammael, a message directing him to the infamous pirate Space-Port of Port Imperial. When the Ravenwing arrive at the Port, they find that the pirates have formed a cult around the Fallen Librarian and fight a fierce battle to protect him from the justice of the Dark Angel Inquisitors as he manages to flee. However, the trail is not lost and the hunt is still on as the Ravenwing follow the mysterious Librarian to his lair where more of his loyal and corrupt followers fight to the death to defend him.

The Ravenwing!
This was another good book from Gav Thorpe but I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as The Purging of Kadillus.  I don’t know why this was, I think it might be to do with the fact that The Purging is a Space Marines Battle Novel and was really fast paced, full of battles, action and all in all, for someone like me, a great book to get into the Warhammer 40K literary world. Ravenwing on the other hand, is the first book in a series so perhaps was not going to be as fast paced as the one-off Space Marine Battle Novel. I also didn’t enjoy the characters as much as I thought I would. I think that this might be because I’m not that big off a fan of the Ravenwing as a unit anyway- which probably explains why Telemenus was my favourite character!
Nevertheless, saying that the novel wasn’t fast paced and then reading it in 3-4 days might seem a bit contradictory. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book but not as much as The Purging and I’d suggest that you read that book before you read Ravenwing. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the next book in the series Master of Sanctity!
For author's official website click here.

And the Winner Is...

Hey guys! The winner of my January Book of the Month Competition for Wolf Dawn by Susan Cartwright is… Kelley Grealis! Congratulations Kelley! If you could please just e-mail me your address to then I’ll get your prize sent off to you tomorrow!

Thanks to everyone who entered, better luck next time for you guys who didn’t win. Keep an eye out for my February Book of the Month Competition as I’m giving away a FREE copy of Wish by C. H. Aalberry!

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