Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Bloodrush by Ben Galley


Tonmerion Hark’s father was shot and killed. He now stands to inherit the entire Hark estate, including the title Lord. There are two problems:

Merion is only thirteen, and his father’s will is for Merion to travel to American frontier and live with his aunt Lilain until he comes of age. Then, he can return to England and take ownership of his place in English high society.

Suddenly, Merion is on a boat, then a train, then he’s stuck in the desert town of Fell Falls. His aunt is the local undertaker, dealing in the bodies of rail workers. There are magical things out here at the edge of the world. Railwraiths attack the workers. The Shohari savages think this is their land. In fact, Merion has a mythical friend of his own: Rhin, a faerie he’s known for years who he rescued from a crippling injury.

But there’s something else going on here. Aunt Lilain keeps asking people to bring their dead pets and dead animals. She collects their blood in vials for reasons she won’t divulge. And then there’s Lurker, the prospector. People say he can smell gold. He seems to think Merion should know something. Something else he inherited from his father. Lilain keeps all that blood for a reason. That secret may be the key to Merion finding out who murdered his father. It could be his ticket out of Fell Falls.

It could also kill him.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from the author's website

“Magick ain’t pretty, it ain’t stars and sparkles. Magick is dirty. It’s rough. Raw. It’s blood and guts and vomit. You hear me?”
When Prime Lord Hark is found in a pool of his own blood on the steps of his halls, Tonmerion Hark finds his world not only turned upside down, but inside out. His father's last will and testament forces him west across the Iron Ocean, to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation. They call it Wyoming.
This is a story of murder and family.
In the dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger, and the railway. Tonmerion has only one friend to help him escape the torturous heat and unravel his father’s murder. A faerie named Rhin. A twelve-inch tall outcast of his own kind. 
This is a story of blood and magick.
But there are darker things at work in Fell Falls, and not just the railwraiths or the savages. Secrets lurk in Tonmerion's bloodline. Secrets that will redefine this young Hark.
This is a story of the edge of the world.


I haven’t read a lot of Westerns, but I’m familiar with the genre, at least a little. Between The Magnificent Seven and Oklahoma!, well, I know that the frontier was a thing. The building of the transcontinental railroad is intriguing to me, though I haven’t pursued learning about it much… yet.

Bloodrush is set in the middle of the building, and wow, did it make things interesting. I loved Galley’s take on this alternative history, where magick is real and wraiths can make bodies from the metal and wood of the track. There’s a lot that’s interesting here, and the magic system that Lurker and Lilain reveal is enthralling. I want to know all about it, so while I can’t agree with how Merion handled things (he’s 13, after all) I understand his drive and lust for more knowledge.


Galley writes very deeply, with clear understanding of his subject matter. I don’t want to say he’s long-winded, because he isn’t, but Bloodrush took me longer to read than I expected. He’s not long-winded, but he is a little slow to read. At least he was for me. It wasn’t boring or difficult, but it just seemed like I barely made headway after a long reading session. This is a book to chip away at. Definitely a marathon, not a sprint.

The book is, though, very well crafted and well put together. Galley keeps things interesting with different elements of tension between characters and events. Part of me did feel like some sections were longer than necessary and that they dragge, but they still weren’t bad. I wish it had moved faster. That may just be Galley’s writing style clashing a bit with my reading style. I can’t say for sure, since this is the first of his books I’ve read. Will I pick up one of his books again? Yes.

My Thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect with Bloodrush. I had no idea I’d be running into a fairy early on, or that there would be magick as cool as the system Galley has created. I didn’t know I’d come across railwraiths, Shohari, or anything like this at all. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself in a magically-influenced history with an English lordling stuck out in the American desert frontier. The climax was exhilarating, and I could honestly have watched a whole 30-minute TV show of just that scene alone.

On the whole, I liked this book a lot, but I did feel it took a bit more of my time than I wanted. I do not regret reading it, but I wish it had gone by faster. I will have to read more of Galley’s works to see if that’s normal for my reading style, or if this was a one-time thing.

Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! This is a fun, intriguing murder mystery (sort of) where the one who wants to solve it get sent half a world away from the scene before he can blink twice. Throw in a new world with different customs and magick, and you’ve got a recipe for thought-provoking action. I give Bloodrush a hoarded 4 of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Review: The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar


Lucia’s people, the Rezzians, have been at war for ten years, and there’s no sign of it stopping. Now, her younger brother Caio has been named Dux Spiritus of the army, and he’s determined to see the war end. A favorite of the ten gods, a Haizzem, Caio is a spiritual man and a healer, desiring no more than to bring peace and life to the Rezzians.

On the other side, the Pawelon prince, Rao, seems to want the same. A sage with mystical powers and strong belief in karma, Rao wants to see the end of the war as badly as Caio does. But the rulers of their countries seem determined to see the war end with blood rather than talk.

Could trial by combat between the two princes be the answer? Lucia doesn’t think so, mostly because one of the gods, Lord Danato, seems determined to torture her as much as possible, and a peaceful end to the war just wouldn’t be interesting enough for him. What sacrifice is he going to ask to end this bloody decade?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.

Her father-king wants war.

Her messianic brother wants peace.

The black god wants his due.

She suffers all the consequences.

King Vieri's war against the lands of Pawelon rages into its tenth year, and with the kingdom's holy savior, his son Caio, en route to the fighting in the storied canyon, victory ought to come soon. Feeling abandoned by his god, King Vieri forces young Caio to lead his army to victory.

The Black One, Lord Danato, tortures Lucia with nightly visions promising another ten years of bloodshed. She can no longer tell the difference between the waking world and Danato's nightmares. Lucia knows the black god too well; he entered her bed and dreams when she was ten.

As the epic battles rage, Lucia struggles to understand the messages of The Black One, while Caio wrestles with his conscience: Can someone who only wants to heal the world bring himself to kill another man?


The Black God’s War is very unlike most fantasy I’ve come across, and I’ve read a lot. Granted, the majority of the fantasy I read is Euro-centric, reminiscent of Western European cultures. In this novel, the best guesses I can make are that the two cultures here are heavily influenced by Greek and Indian cultures. Please keep in mind I could be very, very wrong. If I am, I don’t care so much, because the “unusual” cultures are refreshing, setting this world apart from so many other’s I’ve read (and written). There is much to get accustomed to, but it isn’t a chore or a challenge to sink into the world and characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in Rezzian and Pawelon cultures when compared to the bulk of fantasy I come across.

Another thing that really struck me was how tight the timeline was for these events. So much in media, not just books, is all about doing things bigger. Bigger battles, bigger wars… I mean seriously, the third Hobbit movie spent 45 minutaes trying to outdo itself over and over again in battle epicness. So to have an entire novel that spans a narrow timeline, in a war that’s already spanned a decade, when the bulk of the fighting has already happened, it a great change from the norm. Even so, it is by no means a boring book. It’s proof that you don’t have to go nuts trying to outdo what’s been done before. There is nothing wrong with more subdued but tense action.


In pretty much every way, Siregar breaks up the “usual” when it comes to fantasy. He doesn’t write down to the reader, but at the same time, he’s informative in the right ways to bring the reader into his world. He doesn’t rely on the “outsider” to inform the reader about the world. He brings the reader along, handing out details as needed or to add the color for the world itself. There are moments that left me a little baffled, but they weren’t common or serious. 

I think the biggest challenge in reading The Black God’s War is in keeping events straight. The issues I had in names and sides were minor, but they did add up. The names Caio and Rao kept getting confused in my head for some reason, even though I knew which was which. Secondary characters, like Briraji, Indrajit, and Duilio, blended in my head for whatever reason, more their roles than their names. And while I loved Siregar’s treatment of important moments— displaying them more than once from different points of view— it did get a little repetitive toward the end of the novel. Even so, it was a great technique to get me to keep reading rather than stopping. I wanted to see all sides of events, and Siregar is great at keeping the reader turning pages.

My Thoughts

The Black God’s War shattered a lot of fantasy stereotypes (or traditions, or tropes, or foundations, or whatever you want to call them). Siregar has taken the tired thought of a fantasy book about war and torn it down to its most bare blocks. Then he rebuilt it from the bones up and used a whole different set of paints and fabrics to dress it up. The result is a novel that is both a little bit of a challenge and a great bit of a pleasure to read. It’s hard to get bored with The Black God’s War, although I did have to read it in smaller sessions rather than a big binge session. It made me pay more attention to it than if he’d used some of the more common fantasy elements. This is brilliant on Siregar’s part, as I gave his book much more brainpower and consideration than I have others. He captured my mind early and refused to let go. I’m eager to see more in this world.

Would I Recommend This Book? Oh, so very yes! Besides the fact that it breaks a lot of old habits in the fantasy genre, it’s a solid book with a intriguing, complex plot. Considering the majority of the plot takes place during a war that’s grown stagnant with those fighting it, it all feels fresh and new to the reader, and there’s nothing that gets tedious or predictable. There are great possibilities in warmaking presented in this book, and aside from that, it’s highly entertaining. I give The Black God’s War a deific 4 of 5 stars.

For more on the author, visit

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks


We still don't know quite how it started. We do know that we won, and we're trying to get the world put back together. Or rebuilt into something new. A little of both. We know that the zombies came, and they drove us to drastic measures to get rid of them. Humanity survived, and this recounting of perspectives on the war sheds light on just how we survived.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

We survived the zombie apocalypse, but how many of us are still haunted by that terrible time? We have (temporarily?) defeated the living dead, but at what cost? Told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand, World War Z is the only record of the plague years.


Epidemics happen. Sometimes, we never find a cure for the disease. Sometimes we do. Sometimes the disease is completely out of the blue, something we couldn't have seen coming. That's the case with World War Z. There are times when the origination of the disease (or condition, whatever you want to call it) doesn't matter any more. When something gets so out of control, all you can do is fight it as best you can. Humanity will always struggle to survive. That's plain in this novel.


I loved the format of World War Z. This interview-like setting made listening to the audio version on Audible all the more effective. A great cast recounted their own parts in the events leading up to, participating in, and cleaning up after the war. The content itself is staggering in some cases (I was near tears at one point toward the end) and the performances are perfect for this format. The changes in accent, speech pattern, and tone are all worth paying attention to in this novel. It is an experience.

My Thoughts

For someone who doesn't like zombies, I sure have been reading a lot of zombie stuff lately. Huh... Honestly, I couldn't care less if it were zombies we were up against or some other creature. Zombies just seem so overdone to me. I guess it's pretty clear why the zombie factor isn't why I picked up World War Z. Honestly, I picked it up because of the format of it. The recounting of events by different people with different perspectives, backgrounds, and geographical locations.

I was not disappointed. And I was even rewarded with a believable-- VERY believable-- account of what a world war against the zombies could be like. This was a thorough, thought-provoking recounting of a fictional war that had me from the onset. It can be very easy to sink into this story and wonder if this really happened... somewhere else, just outside of your own little world.

Would I Recommend This Book? I actually would! Whether you're a fan of zombies or not, a fan of war/action stories or not, or a fan of history (real or false) this is a good read. Giving it a rating is a little hard for me, because I want to give it a high rating just because of the awesome cast who performed it. I try to give the story itself the rating... and honestly, I still think World War Z deserves a solid, surviving 5 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit