Friday, 25 September 2015

The Liar's Key, Mark Lawrence

Publishers: Harper Voyager

Pages: 682

Main Characters:

Jal, Snorri, Tuttugu, Kara


The Liar’s Key is the second book in the Red Queen’s War series by epic fantasy author Mark Lawrence. The novel follows on from the tale in Prince of Fools as Jalan and his companion Snorri emerge from the Bitter Ice with Loki’s key, a key that can open any lock.
 With the murder of his family, Snorri plans to take the key and head south in the hopes of finding the door to Hell. With the magical key, Snorri plans to open Hell’s door and be reunited with his murdered loved ones. Jalan too is eager to head south but with very different goals to Snorri. Jal intends to take the key to his Grandmother the Queen of Red March and her Silent Sister. As usual, Jal is thinking of himself and hopes the gift of the key will raise him in his Grandmother’s esteem, possibly even to the position of becoming her heir. Plus with the cold, dour weather of the far north, Jal is keen to return to the luxuries of his palace and the many comforts of the women in his Grandmother’s Kingdom.
With the help of an apprentice Volva (witch) called Kara and one of Snorri’s old friends Tuttugu, the companions sail south to reach the great continent. However their passage is not easy. Their old enemy Edris Dean peruses them for the Dead King and tries to retrieve Loki’s key. The Dead King also craves the key to open Hell’s door and unleash his undead army into the Broken Empire to seize control and reign supreme. The friends must outthink Dean and stop themselves becoming too engrossed in the battle between the Light and the Dark to take the key and open Hell’s door.
The Liar’s Key was a very enjoyable read from one of my favourite authors. I especially liked that Lawrence is expanding the Broken Empire and taking us to places we have not yet visited with whole new characters. Places such as the banking capital of Florence with its mechanical soldiers and the eerie no-mans-land of the Wheel of Osheim expand his mythical and incredibly clever universe.
The Broken Empire... looks familiar don't you think?
In addition, I like how Jalan’s character is developing. Much like Jorg from Lawrence’s Broken Empire series, Jalan has some very deep and disturbing character flaws. However, where Jorg’s flaws became deeper and darker, Jalan’s seem to become much more humane. He starts to gain a conscience and think about other people’s feelings, even though it pains him to do so. I like that this distinguishes Jalan from Jorg because I was starting to feel that their stories were becoming a little similar. Both of their Mothers were killed when they were young and both of them seem to have issues with their siblings. Plus, both princes crave power but go about getting it in different ways.
Perhaps this is how Lawrence intends it to be and that these links will mean something very significant in future novels or series? However, at the start of The Liar’s Key it felt like the same protagonist with the same past, but with a different story and this disappointed me at first. Nevertheless, as the novel went on, Jalan's story and past became unique making me enjoy reading about him and want to know more about his family's past.
If you like Lawrence’s other novels definitely pick up The Liar’s Key because after a few chapters you won’t be able to put it down and the ending paragraph is hilarious! Though if you have not read any of his other books, I would suggest you start with the Prince of Thorns to get into the world of the Broken Empire. In addition, if you’re a fan of George R. R. Martin or of novels such as The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, you will love this book and Mark Lawrence.
For author's official website please click here.
Or for Mark's blog here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Brothers in Blood, Simon Scarrow

Publishers: Headline

Pages: 384

Main Characters:

Marco, Cato


Brothers in Blood picks up the tale of our two heroes straight after the events of The Blood Crows. Marco and Cato have re-joined General Ostorious’s army and are hot on the heels of the infamous Briton leader Caratacus.  With defeat of Caratacus’s army looking imminent, Marco and Cato are sent North on a diplomatic mission to try and ensure the island’s most powerful tribe- the Brigantes, remain loyal to Rome.

If this is not dangerous enough, an old acquaintance from Rome comes to Britannia to warn the duo of an assassin sent to kill them! As a rift between the Emperor’s two most powerful advisors widens, Marco and Cato must eliminate this agent before they disrupt the fragile peace between Rome and its Briton allies.

This was another great read from Scarrow. I didn’t like it as much as The Blood Crows but the plot was extremely thrilling and as usual, Scarrow portrays the sieges and battles in the book in all their grimy and bloody details. Another solid edition to the Eagles series and I can’t wait to see where the next novel takes our two heroes!

Of course I would suggest this book to anyone who has read any of the other Eagles novels. I’d also suggest it to fans of Ben Kane, Anthony Riches, Gordon Doherty and Nick Brown.

For author’s official website click here.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Master of Sanctity, Gav Thorpe

Publishers: Black Library

Pages: 411

Main Characters:

Annael, Telemenus, Master Sapphon

Asmodai, Astelan

Master of Sanctity is the second novel in Gav Thorpe’s epic The Legacy of Caliban trilogy. The book picks up after the first novel Ravenwing and follows the fate of three different Space Marines in the secretive Dark Angels chapter.
The first tale is that of Sapphon the newly chosen Master of Sanctity. Sapphon’s primary duty is to find and reform ‘The Fallen’, a group of ancient Space Marines that turned on their patriarch and their Emperor centuries before. Sapphon’s approach is unorthodox for a Dark Angels Chaplain as he uses his cunning to find and eliminate the traitor Space Marines. This is shown in his attempt to manipulate the 'Fallen' Astelan in the hopes of capturing even more powerful and corrupt soldiers. However, his task is made harder by his brother-in-arms Interrogator-Chaplain Asmodai whom contradicts Sapphon’s methods instead believing in older, more violent methods of manipulation.
Telemenus has being promoted high within the Dark Angels to the Death Squad, a group of elite Terminators who are the tip of the spear of the Dark Angels when hunting for Fallen. Telemenus has to adapt to his new armour and brothers as a member of the First Company of Dark Angels. As well as this, he has to overcome his own doubt in his abilities and his chapter to become the elite warrior everyone expects him to be. The new Terminator must do this quickly to assist the Master of Sanctity in his hunt for the fallen Space Marines!
I love the artwork from these books!

Finally, Annael was the prominent character in Ravenwing and at the start of this novel is also promoted to Black Knight in the infamous motor cycle detachment of the Dark Angels. Having been promoted, Annael is introduced to horrific secrets from the Dark Angels’ past and has to evolve into his new role as one of Master Sammael’s chosen warriors.
Much like Thorpe’s other Dark Angels novels, this book blew my mind! From the first page I was hooked on the hunt for the Fallen and absolutely loved the character of Sapphon. His cunning and ingenuity really distinguishes him from other characters in the book making him unique in comparison to other Space Marines who shoot first and ask questions later. For me, this made his story the most enjoyable to read because he has to use trickery, lies and deceit to win over his more traditional Brothers.
 As the reviewer from SFX states; Thorpe makes his characters ‘actually sound like real people’. I’d absolutely agree with this because he gives the Space Marines real problems like doubt and self-consciousness, which you wouldn’t expect a genetically modified super-soldier to have.
I thought Thorpe did an excellent job of describing the worlds on which the Space Marines visit, especially the world of Ulthor. However, I do kind of question why the story of Ulthor was in the book as it seemed to move away from the plot and in some respects seemed a little pointless. I thought what happens there was exciting and well written but if it hadn’t been in the book, I don’t think the story would be any worse off.
All in all this was a great read. Some people give a little giggle when you tell them you’re reading a Warhammer 40K novel. Nevertheless, I can honestly say they are some of my favourite Sci-fi reads and people who love Sci-fi should definitely check out The Legacy of Caliban trilogy!
For author's official website click here


Monday, 7 September 2015

Bravo Two Zero, Andy McNab

Publishers: Corgi

Pages: 416

Main Characters:

Andy McNab

After reading American Sniper I had a keen interest in military memoirs and really wanted to read more books from that genre. Being British, I wanted to see if there was a difference between the psyche of an American soldier and a British one. I knew that there are two really famous British army memoirs, one of which is The Bridge Over the River Kwai. Although I’d love to read this book, I wanted something a little more similar to American Sniper which left me with Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab. I’m not going to say too much about the book because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but be assured it is an infectious read with a lot of sad and gruesome parts!

As I said above, this book is immensely well known in the UK and was first published in 1991 and has being republished many times since then. The memoir follows SAS (Special Air Service) soldier Andy McNab as he leads his team into an undercover, behind enemy lines operation in the First Gulf War against Iraq in 1990. Their mission is to cut an important communication line between Baghdad and Eastern Iraq where Saddam holds most of his infamous SCUD missiles.
Sean Bean playing McNab in TV show
The mission is clinically planned as every SAS mission is but when unusual weather and a lot of bad luck occur the team are compromised and have to escape Iraq into Syria. Unfortunately, Andy doesn’t make it and is captured by the Iraqis along with two of his friends. What follows is weeks of brutal torture and mistreatment at the hands of the Iraqis before the end of the war. Their job is to break the British soldiers and make them reveal their secrets. But with rigorous training and a strong sense of will, how long can the British soldiers last before their nightmare becomes too much?

This was a vastly interesting book telling an awful but very inspirational story. It gives an insight into the very secretive SAS, Britain’s most highly trained and famous part of the army. I especially liked how honest McNab was about his ordeal and how he doesn’t let his torture define him. As he says, this is what he is paid to do and what he trains for. This comforting though helps give him the will to get through the weeks he spent in an Iraqi jail.

I did enjoy Bravo Two Zero more than American Sniper. I know most of you will say it’s biased because I’m British (and I guess I kind of am!) but the nature of the SAS means that even people who have left the force must remain anonymous which means McNab does not reveal too much about his personal life. Whereas in American Sniper I believe the publisher tried to make Chris Kyle a hero by not just revealing his deeds in Iraq, but by telling more of his personal story and making him the guy everyone would love to buy a beer and pat on the back.  

Another great military memoir, the next one I read will definitely be Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor!
For author's official website please click here.


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