Reviews by Writer Dan

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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Review

The Lessons Never Learned

The Lessons Never Learned

Okay, so yes. I admit it. I’ve been putting off writing this review. In case you might have somehow missed my response to the first book in this series, ALONG THE RAZORS EDGE (EBR Review), it absolutely left me gasping for more. That story is easily one of the best dark fantasy stories I’ve read in the last year, and I haven’t only been noodling around in the self-published arena during that time. I’ve read some authors that I consider to be some heavy hitters. So to say that I was super excited to get into this book would be a pretty powerful understatement. I absolutely couldn’t wait. Like fingers twitching and stuff, grasping for more of The War Eternal. It stands to reason that there will be some spoilers here. So, if you haven’t read that first one yet… seriously, go buy it and read it and then you can come back for my thoughts on this one.
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Review

Of Mice and Minestrone

Of Mice and Minestrone

I love reading speculative fiction. So much so, that I hardly ever read anything that isn’t at least somewhat speculative in nature — at least not by choice — but when I do read something that is just “fiction” I always find myself pining for that little bit of made-up tomfoolery. So this read was a bit out of the ordinary for me, because there really wasn’t anything to do with the speculative in it. However, when we got the book, I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to read it because of how much Steve enjoys this guy’s stuff. We have pretty similar reading tastes, Steve and I. And so even though this was straight-up fiction, I was surprised in the least to find that I *really* enjoyed reading it. There’s something to be said for masterful story-telling, and these stories are completely riddled with it.
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Review

The Gutter Prayer

Posted: June 5, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Gareth Hanrahan, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
The Gutter Prayer

This one sat on my shelves for way too long. Being fair, after I first got it, I read the opening chapter and was totally turned off by what I found. Put it back on the shelf and forgot about it for a while. After seeing some buzz about it though, I decided to pick it back up. Still hated that opening chapter (a prologue that really wasn’t a proper prologue), but after that it got pretty decent and didn’t bother me again until the end of chapter 1. 🙂
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Review

Of Honey and Wildfires

Posted: May 19, 2020 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Sarah Chorn, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Of Honey and Wildfires

So this is another of those self-published reads that I picked up during my recent bout of “Ooh. Shiny” that came while reading Rob J. Hayes’s ALONG THE RAZOR’S EDGE (EBR Review). The connection is that the author of this book, Sarah Chorn, edited Rob’s book. In fact, she edited his entire series and then, post editing, proceeded to gush about it on social media, and I just couldn’t say no to it after all the good things she had to say. In addition, I’d come across her previous (first) book, Seraphina’s Lament, multiple times before, but never read it. I’ve since picked that one up as well and stuck it into my TBR pile. This one was hot on the radar though because of the nearness of its publication date, and so I picked up a review copy from her and dove in.
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