Monday, 21 December 2015

The Desert Spear, Peter V. Brett

Publishers: Del Rey

Pages: 579

Main Characters:

Ahmann Jardir, Arlen, Leesha, Rojer

The Desert Spear is the second book in Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle series. The novel can be basically split into three parts. The first is the tale of Ahmann Jardir- the Sha’Dama Ka (roughly meaning The Deliverer). Ahmann’s story tells of his rise from a dirty street urchin to the best fighter in the desert kingdom of Krasia. During his short and violent days ‘running the maze’ and battling the daemons of the night, Ahmann meets his wife-to-be Inevera. Inevera is a Dama’ting and is blessed with magical dice that can tell the future. The dice tell Inevera that she can mould Ahmann into the Deliverer and that he could unite Krasia into one kingdom, leading his people in a great war against the Daemons. Inevera uses all of her power to direct, manipulate and help him achieve this goal.

The second part of the book focuses on Arlen, Leesha and Rojer, picking up after the first novel The Painted Man. After returning the battle wards to humanity and being betrayed by his closest friend Jardir, Arlen focuses solely on sharing his new wards with the world. Along with Leesha and Rojer, Arlen helps form the Cutters of Cutter’s Hollow into and elite daemon killing army.

With the Hollow defended against daemons, Arlen sets out on a solitary life, as he comes to terms with what daemon magic has done to his body and soul. On his wanderings Arlen returns to his home village of Tibbet’s Brook. There he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Renna Tanner, who convinces Arlen to let her accompany him on his travels.

Like The Painted Man I listened to this book as an audiobook. I have to say that I thought the quality of the audio was much better in The Desert Spear than it was with The Painted Man. Plus, I really enjoyed listening to the voices of the characters I hadn’t heard from in over two years (since I last listened to The Painted Man).

Fan art of Ahmann Jardir

I know some people weren’t a massive fan of it, but I really enjoyed reading about Jardir’s upbringing and learning more about the customs of Krasia. Some people complained that it took too long to get back to Arlen’s story; however I actually like the bravado and intensity of Jardir. Much like other great characters from literature (such as Boromir), Jardir’s flawed personality and his dilemma of choosing his people or his friend appealed to me, and I found him the most interesting character in the novel.

However, one character I couldn’t stand was Reena Tanner. The farm girl-turn-daemon hunter continually got on my nerves throughout the book and whenever she got in trouble, she would pretty much just sleep with someone to try and get away with it. This keeps leading me to think; how can this idiotic, annoying farmer’s daughter really manage to keep up with Arlen Bails? I hope her development over the next few novels makes her a bit more grown up and likeable because in this book I just mostly wanted to skip her parts!

This was a really enjoyable read and is a bit different to the standard fantasy novels out there at the minute. I think the series has a lot of potential and I’m very excited to start the next book; The Daylight War.

For author’s official website click here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Stasi Child, David Young

Publisher: twenty7

Pages: 406

Main Characters:

Karin Müller, Werner Tilsner,
Klaus Jäger

When a mutilated corpse of a young girl turns up within meters of the Berlin Wall, Kriminalpolizei officer Oberleutnant Karin Müller's life is set to drastically change. The year is 1974 and tensions between the East and West are on a knife point. Officials say the girl was fleeing from the West into the East and was shot in the back. However, the involvement of the East German Stasi leads Müller to believe that something much more sinister is amiss

Müller and her deputy Werner Tilsner are introduced to Oberstleutnant Klaus Jäger; a high profile member of the Stasi. Jäger tasks the pair with finding out who the girl was and how she ended up dead on the East side of the Wall. The detectives must tread lightly as they prod into the girl's past, as their ally Jäger is not the only Stasi member interested in this case.

Irma is a young girl forced into living and working at the notoriously cruel school of Jugendwerkhof on the island of Rügen. After being punished for looking out for her friend Beate, Irma is determined to get her and her friend out if the hell-hole. Her plan is simple, out-think their captors and escape into Western Germany.

The two women's tales intertwine as Müller discovers secrets from her past which link her to Irma's fate. The detective must act quickly and decisively to save an innocent girl's life and face her own inner turmoil to solve the murder and satisfy the Stasi.

Berlin Wall
The start of this book was great! The murder, the mystery and the inclusion of the Stasi had me gripped on the story from the very start. I found Young's description of a 70's Eastern Berlin immersive and intriguing to read about and he set the scene perfectly for the mistrusting and covert feel of this novel. I thought the pace at the start of the book was excellent, dragging me into Müller's life with her own personal mystery which created an underlying narrative that again intrigued me and made me want to read on.

However, the thing that disappointed me about this novel was that this pace never really increased throughout the remainder of the book. At the start I was indulged in the story but midway through I felt the pace and emphasis tailed off with Müller going backwards and forwards to Jäger in search of clues. Interlinked with this is Irma’s story, which was added towards the middle of the book and again slowed the narrative and always made me feel like I getting bogged down in a plot I wasn't really enjoying. I kept waiting for a revelation that would burst onto the page and make me read the next 100 pages without even thinking about it (like the start of the novel had) but sadly it never came. I thought it was pretty clear early on who the murderer was and for me there was no big reveal at the end of the novel like I believe most Crime novels have. However, it was interesting to read why the bad guy did the things he did.

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the atmosphere Young creates in Eastern Berlin. The sense of fear and paranoia, along with a misguided and naive sense of pride to the State immersed me in the period in which the novel was based. In addition, adding actual German names into the novel personally engaged me! This is because I am learning German and it was a nice little bonus to the atmosphere and setting.

To conclude, I did really enjoy this book. I thought the Muller's story was strong and had a lot of depth to it which I want top know more about. Plus I really liked Young’s writing style and they way he portrayed Eastern (and Western) Berlin. However, I just wished the final two thirds of the book were as good as the first, as they failed to grab my attention and really make me think who the villain was. I like that Young leaves the end of the novel very open and I've read that Young has signed a three year deal to publish more novels, so I'm very excited to read the next installment!

For Young's official Goodreads page please click here

I'd like to say a big thank you to twenty7 for sending me a pre-release of this novel. You can get the e-book on Amazon Kindle but the paperback won't be released until February.
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