Reviews by Writer Dan

Review

The Court of Broken Knives

The Court of Broken Knives

Back during one of my interminable years of college, I was able to take Sanderson’s Creative Writing course. This was before things took off for him with the Wheel of Time. Mostly I just took the class because I’d begun to dabble with writing my own stuff–instead of just reading–and the teacher happened to be a local author of some minimal renown. Deal. One of his lectures that semester was about how to use perspective and point of view in our stories, and we talked about all sorts of things, not the least of which was the several options we had to choose from.

I remember one question in particular from our discussion being about mixing first-person and third-person POVs within a single book. My recollection is that he said something along the lines of “being careful” but that you could do it, if you wanted to. That’s not something you come across very often though: first- and third-person POVs in the same book. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that did things that way.

Well, not before this one, anyhow.
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Review

Demons, Ink

Posted: June 2, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Clayton Snyder, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Demons, Ink

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and someone will listen.

That’s essentially what happened to me for this book. The author threw out a tweet about needing reviews for his books that made me laugh, and so I told him I’d oblige. Figured out later that the book of his that I bought was self-published and recently entered into the SPFBO that Mark Lawrence runs. Funny enough, he got lumped into the same initial group of books as ALONG THE RAZOR’S EDGE (EBR Review). So, while I’d suggest that Mr. Snyder not hold his breath at the possibility of moving on to Round 2… this was still a pretty good book, and something I’m glad I found my way to.
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Review

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Posted: May 27, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Marlon James, Fantasy
Black Leopard, Red Wolf

I find it interesting just how wide and varied the opinions given for a single book can be. This concept has been rattling around in my brain ever since I started reading this book. Prior to deciding to pick it up, I’d seen a decent amount of buzz about it making the rounds on social media. Nothing too excessive. Some people bandying it about as an “African Game of Thrones”. But then it showed up on a list of books. Well, not just any old list, but a list from Time Magazine of “The Best 100 Fantasy Books of All Time” put together by a selected panel of “well-esteemed” fantasy authors. I mean yeeeeesh. How could I not take them up on that opportunity? At the time though, I somehow completely missed the fact that the author of this book… was actually on the panel.

[side_eye]

Yeah. Okay, I’d say that’s a pretty good primer for one of the most tedious books I’ve finished reading in a long, long time.
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Review

The Shadow Saint

Posted: May 19, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Gareth Hanrahan, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
The Shadow Saint

Potential. Potential. Potential.

This was my mantra after having read the first book in this series, THE GUTTER PRAYER. In what ended up being the most influential ways, that single repeated word kept me from picking up this second book in the series for quite some time. Then I came across a picture of Rob J. Hayes (EBR Archive) on Twitter where he was reading a copy of this book… and for some reason, I couldn’t get the freaking thing out of my head. Something about the way he was looking at its open pages almost haunted my reader brain. Thus, when I came across an announcement that the third in the series had an upcoming release date (yesterday, as it happens), I bit the bullet and bought all three. I just couldn’t help myself.

And, man, am I glad I did.
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Review

Stormblood

Stormblood

I came across this book in an interesting way. Responded to a tweet that Pierce Brown had made, and afterward realized that he’d just been responding to another guy. The initial tweet had been something along the lines of “I don’t need to read anything from [list of golden age SF authors here] and anyone saying that I should is absolutely insane”. Afterward, it only took a little investigation to find out that this other guy just happened to have recently released his first, traditionally published novel through Gollancz. So, of course he was taking the opportunity to get on his soapbox to try and cast a little shade where he could.

Sigh.

Still, I thought that the introduction made for a relatively interesting case study. I mean, if the guy was able to sit down and write a killer story, then maybe he was right, and he *didn’t* need to read that older SF. Maybe he’d be perfectly fine as a science fiction author by just reading the current stuff.

So, I bought his novel. And thus, the game was afoot.
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Review

The Sword of Kaigen

The Sword of Kaigen

Golly-gee willikers, I really miss being part of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. 🙂 🙁 Every time I see the now annual contest come round, I think to myself, “Maybe this year…”, but then I decide to stop lying to myself. The fact of the matter is that, these days, we just don’t have the staff to participate and still keep up any kind of regular reviews for traditionally published books. So, as much as I’d love to dive back into the trenches with our book-review bretheren and sisteren, I’ve come to some kind of peace (Perhaps even, a troubled one? Sorry. Bad time for a pun…) with the way the chips have landed here. Still, this doesn’t preclude my ability to, at the very least, pick up the winner for each year, and see what rose to the top of the pile. Which leaves us with a single glaring omission…
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Review

Nophek Gloss

Posted: March 17, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Essa Hansen, Science Fiction
Nophek Gloss

Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite authors, especially when it comes to Science Fiction. So, the fact that he gave this book a blurb held a lot of weight for me. Then, shortly after hearing about the book, the author participated in an online chat that I got to listen to. That experience left me well-enough intrigued to go find the book and put it up fairly high in my EBR-TBR queue. While intriguing though it was, the read left me with a poor impression and more frustration than I’d hoped for, given the fairly impressive introduction I’d been given.

Grumble.
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Review

How to Rule An Empire and Get Away With It

Posted: March 12, 2021 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: K.J. Parker, Fantasy, Humor
How to Rule An Empire and Get Away With It

I remember, as a kid, finding out that Ronald Reagan was an actor before he became President of the United States. That really took me for a loop at the time. Mainly because I had this overwhelmingly positive impression of what he’d been able to accomplish as President, and the guy hadn’t even been a politician beforehand? Obviously I’d been missing some of the details of his life between his time acting and when he became President. The story in this book though, is about just such an instance, with no details-missing, where an actor is pulled–almost from the very stage where he made his living–and forced to play the part of the leader of the Robur Empire.

And is this actor able to succeed in not only playing that part true, but leaving a positive impression upon his people as well?

The title of the book might give you the clue.
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Review

The Trouble with Peace

Posted: October 20, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Joe Abercrombie, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
The Trouble with Peace

I’ve been in a real funk lately. I know. Join the club, right? It seems like no matter which direction I turn, there’s always some new disappointment waiting to greet me. Hello, 2020. If I had any choice in the matter, and I could pick a single thing that this year might have left alone, it would have been my books. Yes, I know this is ludicrous. There’s no need to remind me of the fact that books published this year have long been completed, and that 2020 did nothing to affect them in the slightest. And yet. After reading this book, I’m seriously beginning to think that some part of me has been broken. It just doesn’t seem possible that my impressions of the story contained therein might be valid. Like in the slightest. But in the end, they are at least consistent in their nature, and for that I’m still holding onto the hope (barely) that something more will come of my current epic disappointment with The Age of Madness.
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Review

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

Posted: August 18, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: K. Eason, Science Fantasy
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

It’s not often that I realize I’m not going to like a book by the time I finish its first line. It does happen though, and this happened to be one of those. For your reference:

“They named the child Rory, because the firstborn of every generation was always a Rory, and had been since the first of that name had cut his way through the cursed briars on the homeworld and saved the kingdom of Thorne–and, incidentally, the princess–from the consequences of poor manners.”

In this case, it was the combination of its length and a failed attempt at nonchalant humor that just turned me off. Well, that and the tone of the thing, which portended nothing short of hundreds of pages of unnecessary detail, generic character, and lazy meanderings of plot. At least in that, I was not disappointed.
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