The fourth book of D.A. Adams’s epic fantasy series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, takes place immediately after the Fall of Dorkhun. Roskin’s father, King Kraganere, is badly wounded, and Kraganere’s advisor, Sondious, has gone insane and usurped the throne. Meanwhile, outside the broken gates of Dorkhun, the Great Empire camps in the valley, preparing for invasion.
To save his father and the KiredurkKingdom, Roskin must unite the other Dwarven kingdoms in an alliance against the empire. Meanwhile, the half-elf, Kwark, sends Vishghu to convince her fellow ogres to aid the Kiredurks despite having just fought a devastating war with them. And Crushaw has a limited amount of time to turn a ragtag mass of elves into an army formidable enough to fight the empire.
And far to the east, a vicious and insane outcast has his own plans for the hero, Roskin.
In many ways, this book is what the three previous books were setting the stage for, and if the fifth book turns out the way the fourth book seems to be hinting expect to see some major epic battles to come, battles far greater than the one in here.
Adams has taken classic tropes in the genre that has existed since The Hobbit and has breathed fresh new life into them. While familiar enough to be identifiable, none of the races follow common stereotypes. It is a world more realistic, where not every elf or dwarf is good and not every orc is evil. And not all dwarves live underground: some, like Molgheon, are most at home in the wilderness. It is a world familiar to readers of Epic Fantasy but also possesses the grim and grit of Sword & Sorcery.
Adams makes you care about the characters, about the relationships, and about the world. And instead of characterizing the human-ruled Great Empire in a two-dimensional light, he shows, through an imperial captain, the moral complexities of the choices between loyalty and duty in an empire that is becoming decadent and complacent. You actually feel for what the captain has to go through despite him being one of the enemies.
The series as a whole is one of the best you’re ever going to find, whether from small press or large, and the fourth installment will keep you reading well past your bedtime.
Best to read while listening to: any epic music (Two Steps From Hell perhaps?) or epic fantasy soundtrack (you know which ones).
Cercia’s new leader, Quentin, sends Asahel and Felix to Anjdur as ambassadors to broker a peace treaty, but also as secret agents. While trying to avoid one war, they find themselves embroiled in another while having to prevent the assassination of Anjdur’s Empress.
Being the second part of a trilogy, I expected The Jealousy Glass to feel like the second act of a three part play, but instead it felt like the first act only with a little back story. Nothing wrong with that, but trilogies normally have a bit more glue holding them together, and the second book is supposed to contain the “good stuff” (ala The Empire Strikes Back).
But as far as character depth and world building goes, Perkins knows her stuff. Even the dialogue felt real for that world and Perkins paints a vivid imagery of the setting without bogging the reader down in details. The plot smoothly transitions from one point to the next; however, there were some points where it felt like the two main characters, Asahel and Felix, were just along for the ride. For example, a certain plot-related item gets broken…and Asahel has no idea why he broke it.
As far as being the mid-point of a larger story, it felt lacking, yet it’s still adequate as a stand-alone story so long as you don’t mind the plot feeling a bit forced in a certain pivotal scene. All in all, it’s a good read to have around when you don’t have anything else to read.
Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to The Tudors? Do they have a soundtrack out for that?
And now for…
Ya’know wat? Screw putting that damn dislaimer into every single review post! I’m rebelling, dammit!
It’s April 21st, and as part of the Overkill Blog Tour, SpecMusicMuse presents you with a Double Whammy. And no, I’m not talking about a porno, either, so get your brain matter out of the gutter. What I am talking about is both a review AND an interview in one day. Hell, one post even.
First off, the review:
SpecMusicMuse Review: Overkill by Steven L. Shrewsbury
Another tale of Goria La Gaul, set in the pre-Flood period, in the land of Transalpina, Overkill is just as gritty and blood-soaked as Thrall. Gorias gets summoned by Queen Garnet to find and rescue her lost granddaughter, Nykia, who Gorias once saved when she had been a child. Aided by Alena, one of the Queen’s elite guard, and a palace servant named Orsen, the grizzled old merc must do what he does best: namely kick ass and take names.
This story takes place on land and sea and contains all the action you’d expect in an epic fantasy and a plot twist that just wouldn’t be a La Gaul story if it wasn’t in there. While he avoids making the characters two-dimensional, don’t expect enormous character depth. There’s just enough for a story of this genre without sacrificing the story’s pace. And for such a story that’s all you really need.
The action scenes are vivid. The world and culture feels real once you become immersed. And the story never bores. If you enjoy Sword & Sorcery or Epic Fantasy with a dark edge, then you will love Overkill.
Best read while listening to: the soundtrack to any Conan or Beastmaster movie. Oh, and Viking Metal, because Viking Metal rocks.
And now for:
Gorias le Gaul. How in the world did you come up with a character like him?
SS: He sort of volunteered into my mind. He’s a mash up of Johnny Cash, John Wayne and Wagner’s Kane a little (some say a dash of me as well). In GODFORSAKEN my research told me the sacred spear of the god Lugh was named Gorias. I liked the name. That name and a song by a bluegrass legend from antiquity sealed the deal. I didn’t want to write about a young buck with all his learning to do. Gorias is getting on in life, at 700, getting tired, too, but still full of piss & vinegar. When he stepped forward, well, the stories fell in line.
The setting for your le Gaul stories is the antediluvian period. Obviously that period is mentioned in the Bible, but did you also look into other cultural stories about that period, like the Sumerian tales?
SS: Of course. I know Gilgamesh from Bilgames (only a well read geek will know what I’m talking about). Sure. I read of all cultures and their pre-flood tales, even the American Indians. I think there is a huge epoch we forgot, so thus, anything goes. It sounds like the rules of the material world were a tad bent then ala angels & demons running around. I don’t think all of the things in these books is true (Nephilums, demons cross breeding with saurian beasts to create dragons) mind you, but they are fun to explore. As time goes on, we learn about more forgotten cities from that era, or at least, beyond recorded history. Kenniwick Man, who was in North America 13,000 years ago (found in Washington State) was Caucasian and had a spear head healed into his pelvis (or hip my mind is going). That’s fascinating stuff.
With two books now will we be seeing any more of that old asskicker?
SS: Yes. I have several more in mind and a slew of short stories or novellas I can tie in about his life and that era. There was so much I hinted at in THRALL and blurted in OVERKILL that many will want books written of Gorias’ recollections.
What do you find the most fascinating about Epic Fantasy? And which authors do you find most inspiring?
SS: Anything can happen, pretty much, and it’s a time different than ours. Yeah, some of the same jerks/characters are guilty of the same passions or hatreds, but one can paint with a broader brush. Howard, Wagner, Moorcock, Lieber, Manly Wade Wellman, and quite a number of horror writers, too. I think some writers are more concerned with telling a long series of books than a real story. The Gorias cycle is not one where ya gotta read them all in order to get ‘em. Each is a tale unto itself. I have never conceived a novel thinking, “Ya know what’d be the ice cream on the titties? How ‘bout I write seven of these f*&kers that will only make sense by the last few when I am senile and forgot the original point.” In the past couple years I have written a massive epic fantasy that isn’t submitted yet. I wrote it as a book to do before I die, a story I’ve always wanted to tell. It’s not about Gorias. I talked with a few folks on it and the FIRST thing they said was, “Cool idea, but is this the first of a series?” No. It isn’t.
And speaking of inspiration is there any kind of music that you find helpful to your writing?
SS: A wide variety inspires me for alotta reasons. Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Megadeth, old blues, an offhand line in a Shooter Jennings song can make a novel. Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley helped create Gorias La Gaul. I don’t care for rap or pop stuff or modern country music. I like the kinda country that makes one want to drink whiskey and kill yourself. I’ve reached the age where new music doesn’t sound so good to me anymore. There are a few here and there, but, meh.
What other fantastic stuff does Shrews have cooked up in his demented mind?
SS: I have two forthcoming horror novels, HELL BILLY set in reconstruction era Memphis, due out from Bad Moon Books pretty soon here. That one is about a rebel that keeps offing members of the occupying troops family, gets caught and executed then returns the next day. Over and over. LAST MAN SCREAMING is a Lovecraftian western, with my one armed confederate guy Joel Stuart searching for the Black Bible, NAMELESS CULTS in Juarez for Von Juntz nephew. Plus, I’ve written a novel featuring my Widowmaker character, Absalom Abbas, the traveling executioner. I have that big assed epic to get out, plus more fun & games.
Steven L. Shrewsbury is a fantasy and horror author who has well over 300 tales published online or in print. He is the creator of creator of Dack Shannon and the Majestic Universe, as well as the novels Tormentor (Lachesis Publishing), Hawg (Graveside Tales) and Stronger Than Death (Snuff Books).
He has appeared in many anthologies, most recently Harlan County Horrors from Apex Publications. Other anthologies include Deathgrip: Legacy of Terror from Hellbound books; Blackest Death-Vol I from BDB; the high fantasy epic Grimoire De Solace from iUniverse, the hardback Cemetery Poets, Scary, Atrocitas Aqua from DDP.
For more information on Steven L. Shrewsbury, please visit his website at www.stevenshrewsbury.com
Like dwarves? You’ll get plenty of dwarves in D.A. Adams’s The Fall of Dorkhun, the third book in his The Brotherhood of Dwarves Series. After escaping slavery and surviving the Battle for Hard Hope, Roskin returns home to find his father’s kingdom at war with the ogres. Although his father wants peace, Master Sondious seeks revenge against the ogres after being crippled. Roskin and his friends find themselves caught in the middle of a treacherous coup as the human-ruled Great Empire marches toward the Kiredurk Kingdom.
Everything that makes for a great heroic fantasy is within the pages of this book: cool battles (but what do you expect from dwarves?), political intrigue, and believable characters that will grow on you as the story progresses. If you haven’t read the first two books (The Brotherhood of Dwarves and Red Skies at Dawn), you might want to do so before picking up this one; however, reading the third book without reading the first two didn’t leave me lost. Adams lets you know enough of what went on before for you to be able to pick up on the important parts of the prior novels, and all without needing a prologue.
It takes a couple chapters before Adams gets to the main plot of the story, but those parts are clearly bridges connecting the second novel to this one, and allows new readers to get to know the main characters if they hadn’t read the last two. And once I was acquainted with the characters, the rest of the story became quite enjoyable to read. It also left me wanting to get the first two novels and anticipate the next one so I can read the entire series. Adams has crafted a detailed world that feels fresh and new despite using the (alleged) cliché of stock fantasy races like elves, dwarves, ogres, and orcs. He succeeds in this by making each character a unique individual instead of relying on stereotypes.
All in all, while not an epic masterpiece it is still a fun read, and The Fall of Dokhun is worth adding to your list of books to read.
Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, and Viking Metal of course! Amon Amarth and TÝR rule!
And, I might add, one of the best ones yet:
I need about a dozen VAs to do about three or four minor characters each, both male VAs and female VAs. The characters include amazons, soldiers, army commanders, and politicians to name a few. Each character has about one to four lines, with the possible exception of one or two of the characters. To audition, send an MP3 of the below lines, using a different voice for each (doesn’t have to be too different, after all Audacity can work wonders) to scottmsandridge AT gmail DOT com:
“Reform the line! Hold them back!”
“We must get the children to safety!”
“What did you just say?”
Include a few battle cries, grunts, screams, and deaths.
Alas, it’s non-paying, but you’ll get to be in a project that includes Phillippa Ballantine among other possible special guest stars. The deadline for the audition is September 30. After September 30 I will try to match you with the characters your voice best fits. The odds of getting in is good considering the amount of characters I need voiced (and possible VA background voices for several large battle scenes as well).
An excerpt of the upcoming podcast novel, The Messiahs War, Book II: Emperor of Vangaard, can be heard on Alley of Horror 2009: Campfire Tales, courtesy of Imagination Lane. Enjoy!
Issue #4 of Silver Blade is now up, with my flash fiction tale, “A Nighttime Business Arrangement.” Remember the “deal” with the nobles that Yavar talked about arranging in Episode 10 of The Silverblade Prophecy? Now you’ll get to know how she arranged it.
“Treecutter” is now available at Anthology Builder.com. Once again, my first published story proves to be the gift that keeps on giving. Bid kudos to Nancy Fulda for accepting it.