Saturday, May 14, 2011

Storm Front

So I am a fairly avid avoider (is that a word?) of so called "urban fantasy" the entire concept of the modern world and fantasy mixing has always just come off as a little trite to me to be honest. Quite a few things could be said about authors who revel in the field, almost all biased and untrue. But after hearing so much about the Dresden Files for so long i thought I owed it to myself to take the plunge and see what all this fuss was about. Boy am I glad I did. Jim Butcher has crafted a fantastic read seemingly with ease. There are few books I get through as fast as I got through this one, just over one night it took me, would have been the one sitting if I hadn't started it so late in the evening.
 So why is it so great? The fast pacing is definitely a boon to the reader there are no points where you're bogged down hearing about inane facts or trivialities that don't push the story towards is awesome climax. Don't take this to mean there is a lack of detail in the story though because there isn't it is a full formed story with great detail, it's a testament to the crafting that you don't realize how detailed it is until you look back at what you read. The characters are another boon to the experience Harry could be the long lost love child of Sherlock Holmes and Gandalf. He is the main character and a wizard in Chicago who specializes in finding things. That is a far to simple way to explain this very complex and multi layered character however, Harry is deeply flawed and knows it, he has an inherently good heart and wants to do the right thing however he is also dogged by his own dark past.
 The rich detail of the world covers wizards, vampires, hard-nosed detectives, a bar purpose built for magical patrons,  sociopathic gangsters, and unbelievably hilarious faeries (read it just for the faeries i tell you).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tome of the Undergates

So you want to be an adventurer? The brilliantly realised characters in Sam Sykes first outing may turn you off the idea wholesale.

Why it would be a grand profession I hear you cry. Sam Skyes in Tome of the Undergates shows us a couple of damn good reasons not to be an adventurer, the main one being "other adventurers".

 Sam has been likened to Joe Abercrombie for his darkly cynical turn of phrase and character amorality, when I heard this I new I was in for a treat. Not once did Tome fail on the delivery of that promised treat. The story is essentially a brutal set of violent encounters that cluster around a main plot. Do not despair this is not for a lack of plot or storytelling ability, Sam doesn't throw violence at us readers for the sake of it. Violence is an intrinsic part of the characters lives and serves not only to make the book a fast paced action read but as a method by which the characters are developed, mainly through their reaction to or the way they perpetrate said violence.

 So what is this plot, it is centred on a group of adventurers. Anyone who has ever played a dungeons and dragons game or a similarly inspired role playing game will no doubt see the character archetypes. There is the leader Lenk a silver haired small human with a big sword and a tendancy towards using it as the solution to every problem. Oh and he is also slightly insane.. he hears voices. Lenks band of very unmerry followers is made up of Kataria a "schict", a pointy eared arrow slinging psycotic with the dexterity of a squirell who hates humans and enjoys killing them. Denaos the cowardly and mysterious rogue, Dredaleon the pompous magic user, Asper the self righteous cleric and of course the big red machine no not kane but Gariath the dragonman. Yes you read that right DRAGONMAN how cool is that. He is another non human member of the group who delights in killing and violence beyond the pale, he has an intense dislike for anyone who isn't a dragonman.

The story follows as our bunch of psychopaths embark on an adventure to return a lost tome to their employer as they face off with ten foot tall fish demons and frogmen. All in all a wonderful read and sure to turn any of the male readers into adolesent boys obbsessed with how "cool" certain thin
gs in the read are.