Reviews :: Book Genre :: Heroic Fantasy

Review

Starless

Starless

About halfway through STARLESS (Amazon), Jacqueline Carey’s latest novel, the narrative takes a distinct turn towards myth and fable. The move from specific to generic forfeits much of what was interesting in the first half of the book in favor of an almost childlike story of wonder and adventure, leaving the reader holding a novel that feels less than satisfying despite many interesting elements.

STARLESS takes place, perhaps not surprisingly, in a world where all of the stars have fallen to earth. Each of these fallen ‘children of heaven’ now rule as a god or goddess in the realm where they fell. Born at the exact moment of an eclipse, Khai is chosen by the Brotherhood of Parkhun to be raised as the ‘shadow’ to Princess Zariya, who was also born under this same celestial event. Zariya is part of the House of the Ageless, the royal family who partake each year of a special seed that prevents aging, keeping them alive for hundreds of years.
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Review

The Thorn of Dentonhill

The Thorn of Dentonhill

I was in the mood for a straightforward, uncomplicated fantasy story and voila! There on my to-read shelf was THE THORN OF DENTONHILL. I was prepared for tropes and predictability and was even determined to be O.K. with magic system/plot inconsistencies because, really, I rarely notice those details if the characters are engaging and the pacing and story is good… but there is simply no margin for error when the writing is poor. Too bad, because this was potentially as good as early Harry Potter and might have satisfied Rowlings fans in search of something similar and good. Except it’s not.
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Review

The Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown

With all the popular YA novels out there sporting wishy-washy teenage ‘heroines’, it’s time to introduce you to a classic that does it right. For the kids of my generation there was Robin McKinley’s THE HERO AND THE CROWN (Amazon), the winner of the 1985 Newbery Medal Award.

Aerin is the only child of the king. The problem? She’s a girl. Since her deceased mother was a foreigner (and it’s whispered she was a witch), and Aerin has inherited her pale skin and red hair, she’s snubbed and ignored. She discovers a book about the dragons that used to threaten Damar, and on her own learns how to make kenet, an ointment that protects the wearer from the effects of fire, and trains herself to fight dragons. When word comes that a local village is being terrorized by a small dragon, Aerin with the kenet and her father’s old war horse, goes to fight it. Unfortunately, it’s not only the smaller dragons who begin to return.
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Review

Nightborn

Posted: August 28, 2015 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Lou Anders, Heroic Fantasy, Middle Grade
Nightborn

Karn is a gamer; his favorite game is Thrones and Bones (after which the series is named). When his best friend Thianna–half giant, half human–is kidnapped, he’s tasked by the dragon Orm to find her. Easier said than done, for he must travel far from his rural home to the city of Castlebriar, deal with duplicitous elves, and solve riddles. Thianna was on a quest to find a horn, much like the one they discovered in book one, FROSTBORN (Amazon)–these horns make it so the user can speak with and coerce magical beasts. And Orm isn’t the only one who wants to find the second horn.

Desstra is a dark elf, training to be a member of the Underhanded, a group of elite fighters. When an important test goes awry, she’s sent on a mission to prove she’s worthy. Part of that mission involves tricking Karn into thinking she’s something she isn’t. Because if she can’t get the horn before Karn does, then she will be outcast from the only home she’s ever known–even if she does think dark elves aren’t very nice.
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Review

Hush

Posted: June 8, 2012 by Nickolas in Books We Like Meta: James Maxey, Heroic Fantasy
Hush

Being a book critic is sort of like getting to experience Christmas at least once a week. Getting books from your favorite authors months before release is the gift that keeps on giving. Earlier this year I read GREATSHADOW by James Maxey (EBR Review), and despite my cynical reservations it blew me away. Now we have HUSH (Amazon), the much anticipated sequel that I had to wait excruciating months for. Months! With great excitement I started reading about the most original and colorful fantasy world I have encountered in recent memory.

HUSH picks up almost immediately after the events of GREATSHADOW. If you haven’t read GREATSHADOW please stop with this review and go buy it. Otherwise you may encounter some spoilers, though I will try to keep those to a minimum.
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Review

Greatshadow

Posted: March 13, 2012 by Nickolas in Books We Love Meta: James Maxey, Heroic Fantasy
Greatshadow

Reviewing books has its ups and downs. On one hand you are given free books to read and asked to give your opinion of them. Reading and stating my opinion are serious hobbies of mine. On the other hand, sometimes you are asked to read books about dragons. Dragons. I do not like dragons. I have not enjoyed reading about dragons for a long, long time. You’ll imagine my surprise then, when I completely fell in love with James Maxey‘s GREATSHADOW (Amazon).
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Review

Demonstorm

Posted: May 23, 2011 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: James Barclay, Heroic Fantasy
Demonstorm

How do you end a series? We’re sure this is a question every author asks at some point during a career. We’ve read quite a few series from start to finish, and have decided that writing that satisfying ending and conclusion must be the hardest thing to do. Why? We chalk it up to expectations. This can be crippling to the final book in a series, especially when the series has been SO good.
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Review

Hawkmoon: The Runestaff

Posted: April 25, 2011 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Michael Moorcock, Heroic Fantasy
Hawkmoon: The Runestaff

And alas, we come to the end of the tale. We’ve run the gamut, the bell has tolled, and the last of Hawkmoon’s adventures have passed by our eyes. The pages have flown so fast.

HAWKMOON: THE RUNESTAFF (Amazon) is the fourth and final book of the Hawkmoon series by Michael Moorcock that Tor has been giving an upgrade and reprint to over the last year or so. These books hearken us back to the old days of classic fantasy fiction when the heroes were gallant gentlemen and their foes nefarious men of wickedness. Honor and virtue always triumphed over evil, and it was seeing how it would all play out this time around that always drew the readers in droves.
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Review

Shadowheart

Posted: December 16, 2010 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: James Barclay, Heroic Fantasy
Shadowheart

We get asked all the time who our favorite authors are. Two years ago the answers would have been absurdly simple, but we read a lot more novels these days. A WHOLE lot more. As a result, who we consider our favorites tends to shift and slide. Barely more than a year ago we hadn’t yet read anything by James Barclay. Now with each novel of his that we read, he solidifies himself as one of our favorite authors.
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Review

Elfsorrow

Posted: November 29, 2010 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: James Barclay, Heroic Fantasy
Elfsorrow

There is something oddly comforting about reading a James Barclay novel. It’s like when the holidays roll around and the smells of good, home-cooked meals automatically make you relax and enjoy the day a tad more than usual. ELFSORROW (Amazon) fits this role perfectly.
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Review

Sasha

Posted: June 30, 2010 by Alan in Books We Like Meta: Joel Shepherd, Heroic Fantasy
Sasha

SASHA by Joel Shepherd (Amazon), was kind of a surprise for us. We knew Joel’s work from his Cassandra Kresnov series, but we didn’t quite know what to expect from the first novel in his A Trial of Blood and Steel. While there were a few issues we took with the novel, we actually enjoyed what was offered and look forward to the sequels. Read on, slaves and loyal followers, to find out why.
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Review

Shadow’s Son

Posted: June 16, 2010 by Alan in Books We Like Meta: Jon Sprunk, Heroic Fantasy
Shadow’s Son

We had the very distinct pleasure of meeting Jon Sprunk and his wife this past World Fantasy (coincidentally both Jon’s wife and son have the same names as Steve’s wife and son). We had already heard a lot about him, and had emailed back and forth a few times. It was obvious we would like him, and we did. So when his book came out we were nervous about reviewing it. Jon is a friend, and this is his first book. Luckily we don’t have to hate on his book! It was a very fun book to read.
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Review

Noonshade

Posted: November 6, 2009 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: James Barclay, Heroic Fantasy
Noonshade

Remember that guy, James Barclay, whose book DAWNTHIEF (EBR Review) we reviewed a few weeks ago? If you don’t remember, shame on you! That first novel was one of the higher quality novels we had read all year, so we had some fairly high expectations for NOONSHADE. Do we ever not?

The story of NOONSHADE picks up, literally, minutes after the first book, DAWNTHIEF, ends and throws us right back into the exploits of the mercenary band, The Raven. In the first few pages we are given a brief, “Hey, look! There’s a big-A hole in the sky as a consequence for saving the world in a dangerous way in the last book.” summary. Then BAM! (Emeril, not only are we more attractive, we even say your catchphrase better. Eat your heart out.) we get right into the events of the current book. Salvation brings its own can of worms in this worms. Actually it isn’t a can of worms, so much, as a rift in the sky through which all manner of destruction can manifest. By, “all manner of destruction” we mean interdimensional dragons that want nothing more than to obliterate everything, and kick your dog. Twice.
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Review

Dawnthief

Posted: August 27, 2009 by Steven in Books We Love Meta: James Barclay, Heroic Fantasy
Dawnthief

The next time you run across Lou Anders from Pyr SF&F, buy him a drink. In fact, buy him two, he won’t mind. Then, ask him where you can find James Barclay so you can buy that gentleman a drink as well. In Lou’s on-going crusade to bring the US great fantasy titles from the Brits, he brings us James Barclay’s DAWNTHIEF (Amazon), and in doing so takes us on and honest-to-goodness adventure.

Do you remember a few reviews back where we reviewed WINTERBIRTH? (Amazon) Do you remember how upset we were with the comparisons people had been drawing between it and David Gemmell’s work? (Amazon) Well, we are pleased to tell you that Barclay’s DAWNTHIEF is truly worthy of the comparison to the works of the late Gemmell. In fact, we are quite sure Gemmell would be more than proud of Barclay’s work, and the reception it is bound to receive here in the US.
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Review

Winterbirth

Posted: August 12, 2009 by Steven in Books We Hate Meta: Brian Ruckley, Heroic Fantasy
Winterbirth

“The world breeds no heroes now.”

This line from the novel WINTERBIRTH by Brian Ruckley (Amazon) sums up our main observation after reading the novel. WINTERBIRTH is marketed as both Epic Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy. What does that mean? Well, for starters, it means we have heroes in some sort of capacity. It also means we should have blood and battle… and in high quantities. Epic Fantasy usually involves some sort of epic quest, or a huge, all-engrossing plot that the heroes must stop. Heroic Fantasy means we have heroic and tragic last-stands.
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