The next Aegis of the Gods book is almost ready. There’s something to be said about good covers, and I have worked to try come up with covers that will draw my reader in. I hope my fans appreciate the effort. Covers have always been a drawing point for me, even now when I read primarily on my tablet. When browsing, I always go cover first before I read the blurb and a sample. I just feel the cover is important. Not as important as the contents of the book, as you truly can’t judge a book by it’s cover (sorry, I had to), but a good cover might tell you that the author or publisher cared about what his book looked like to his potential reader.
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I was twenty pages from the end when I had to stop to write this review before I forgot what I had to say. I have never done that before.
King of Thorns is better than the first book. It is brutally brilliant, gruesomely good, and amid the carnage offers slivers of a rainbow before snatching it away in a world and future as grim and real as any out there.
Amid the wickedness that is Jorg Ancrath, you will find wit and wisdom to match. Sometimes almost too much for a young man of eighteen. But then, he is not a normal young man, or else why would Lawrence tell us his story? He is special in every way and so is this book.
From characterization, to prose, to style, to setting, King of Thorns is carefully laid out in ways that capture the imagination, whether good or bad or ugly. The writing just feels so natural, so Jorg. Take the two passages below.
“It being Sunday, the cook prepared a special treat for us. Snails in garlic and wine, with saffron rice. The snails came from local cliffs. A big variety as thick as a child’s arm. But let’s face it, snails are just slugs with a hat on. The main dish looked like large lumps of snot in blood.”
“But they’ll sing songs about Quick Jorg for years to come. Fast with one sword, faster with the other,” she said.
Those two are just miniature snippets of hundreds of passages in this book that speak to the style, and in fact, are nowhere near the best there is, but are worthy examples.
Whether in act of defense, murder, or the twines of manipulation, Jorg tells his story in gripping fashion without any apology. Simply put, his will is indomitable, his hunger for revenge and power near insatiable, he’s conniving and cruel, but he is no less spellbinding to read. At times, he has the tiny touches of compassion that make you think he’s coming around, that he is human after all, before he disabuses you of the notion.
Five days it took me. This is the fastest I remember reading in a long time. I was simply transported into this boy, this tale, this world. And I want more. No. I NEED more.
There will be naysayers as there were for Prince of Thorns. To them I shrug. They simply do not understand Jorg or the condition of humanity than when driven to extreme circumstances, might surface in any one of us.
Thank you, Mr. Lawrence.
P.S I read those last twenty pages. The ending was nothing short of amazing with a great plot twist and some classic unscrupulous Jorg.
Excellent Read. Right now for me, it’s a 5.
In the Black Prism, Weeks betters what he did with Night Angel.
The Prism offers a wealth of fantastic worldbuilding, good characters, action, war strategy, political intrigue, and plot twists to keep one coming back for more.
The magic system is well laid out. Simply put, a percentage of the populace known as Drafters have the ability to harness colors through light in a skill called Chromaturgy. This basically takes a force of will and belief to create Luxin which then can be used for everything from buildings to machines to weapons to fireballs. There are other subtleties. Let’s say I enjoyed it very much.
The characterization is good. The characters feel real and are engaging. You can sympathize with some and others you want to kick in the butt. At times, one of them can get annoying with his personality traits, and well almost a second personality. They more than served the story, the plot, the politics and scope of the world.
As usual from Weeks, when the action gets going, it gets going. The clash of Drafters reminds me of the Secret Wars comic books, as they do incredible things. Of course there are touches of mundane fighting, but when you have the magic embedded in this world, that takes a back seat.
The end was well worth the ride, adding another twist in a book chock full of them. Some people might carry on about tropes or cliches, but for me, it’s all about how they’re presented. After all, there’s just about nothing that can be done that is completely original. This is why I base my reviews of my enjoyment, rather than technical merits.
That is to say, I enjoyed this book immensely. Well done, Mr.Weeks.
I’ll keep this simple. This is a great addition to the series. If you know Dresden then it continues much of the same. Great dialogue, awesome insight, witty banter and a way of writing that makes you feel a part of the man. You become attached to Harry’s plight and his issues. At times when he speaks on aspects of the human condition, I found that I could relate. Example at one point when he’s speaking about love, life and pain, I felt that pain. The plot twists and turns and is so well laid out that I kept turning page after page not wanting to put the book down. The magic was astounding and the attention to detail was there, that made me believe in the things that were being done.
If you are a fantasy fan and you have not read Dresden, pick up the series. I promise you won’t regret it.
Recently, I’ve been reading quite a bit of thieves and assassins and the like. All of them have been good. Among Thieves does not disappoint.
I would consider this book more of a medieval style spy fantasy with a generous helping of sword fights and some well used sorcery. The main character Drothe is well done and so is Degan. Loved them both.
The sense of danger and intrigue is littered throughout this book and the prose style made me feel like I was Drothe. I could relate, his voice was that distinct. There are a lot of books that I don’t find that and when I do, I’m quite pleased.
The plot is deep and at times runs along at a breakneck speed which I quite enjoyed. Unlike a lot of fantasy, our main character isn’t very good at much besides spying, therefore when he’s in a sword fight, you tend to wonder, how will he get out of this now. But he manages, which at times left me smiling.
All in all, a good book and I look forward to more.
I thoroughly enjoyed this series and this final book. While the first book was my favorite, Shadow’s Master had a lot going for it. Sprunk’s action as always is top notch and so are his descriptions and setting. Caim, I got into right away and was totally engrossed, watching as he follows blindly into the teeth of danger.
This time around, I found myself less attached to Josey. Something about her felt lacking. This may have been because I was so into Caim. Then there was the questionable feats she managed considering her state. Despite this flaw, by the time I got to the meat of her situation when her major obstacle arose, her PoV made for better reading that caught me up, although I did find myself wondering “How did she do that and not …” I’ll chalk it up to what Hirsch tells her at the end.
Beyond that, the battles were thrilling and the magic at the climax was something to behold. Some may find a fault with Caim’s grasp of being able to do what he did, but the man was special in many ways. This time around there were no great plot twists, but the unfolding events were nicely put together at a pace that should keep any reader going.
I would recommend this series to any of my fantasy friends. Thank you for the good read, Mr. Sprunk. I look forward to what you write next.
Knight Commander Stefan Dorn, leader of the Unvanquished, has known only war, death and, victory. All in the name of his loyalty to King Nerian the Lightbearer, a man he idolized.
Everything he thought he knew about the King, his people, and his world is coming to an end. At a time when there should be peace, he’s once again called to war.
Torn between shocking changes at home, his family, loyalty to his men and his King, Stefan wishes only to enjoy life away from the battlefield. But with the new campaign comes a rabid, unforgiving enemy and a potential cataclysm.
Follow him as he fights to save his family, his people and his birthright from the grips of the shade. When failure is not an option, which will he sacrifice for a chance at victory?
The Shadowbearer is a rousing and engaging prequel to Etchings of Power and a worthy addition to the Aegis of the Gods series.
Terry: Who are you?
Aeon: I am Aeon. Oberon calls me his mad gardener, but I don’t belong to him. He may have bound me here, but he doesn’t know everything about me. Come, walk with me a bit, but mind your step. My pets can be clingy.
Terry: Where do you live?
Aeon: Why here, in the maze. Is it not a wondrous place? Even I don’t know all its twists and turns.
Terry: Are you the hero of your own story?
Aeon: Oh, you are an amusing fellow. All stories are my story. My roots go back to the very beginning of Fairie. And I am an old tree, indeed. You could even say that Lydia’s story is just a continuation of my own, even if she does not yet realize it. If my trees could talk, they would tell you stories that would hold you spellbound, lost within Faerie. Lucky for you, they are sleepy today.
Terry: How do your friends see you?
Aeon: Until Lydia wandered into my maze, I had not understood how someone with power could offer friendship. We have so long been bound by our hatreds, our petty jealousies. I think Lydia is my friend. It is dangerous to offer such a precious gift to the Fae, and I fear for her. If that means I am her friend, then yes, it must be so.
Terry: How do your enemies see you?
Aeon: That is a much more interesting question. Oberon sees a broken, beaten little man, his power contained in a maze he thinks he created. I let him believe his lovely Faerie tale because it suits me. I wasn’t always his tame gardener. But the green and growing things here have always been my allies. Oberon would do well to remember that.
Terry: How does the author see you? Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
Aeon: She is an interesting one. I think she sees me as clearly as anyone Mortal can, though perhaps that is unfair. Just because she is ephemeral does not mean her vision is wrong, only limited. She is beginning to be troubled by dreams of my past. Perhaps once, she thought of me as benign, a rare ally for her Lydia, but now she understands that like my garden itself, I am wild and twisted. It will not be easy for her to find my story, but now that it has started to take root inside her, well, I suspect I know how this will end.
Terry: What do you regret?
Aeon: The Fae have no regrets. We are creatures of impulse and power. If there is something we desire, either we take it or will it into being. And yet, I envy Lydia. She is so refreshing in her loyalty. If I regret anything, it is that I cannot give her back that which Oberon has stolen.
Terry: Have you ever betrayed anyone?
Aeon: Have you learned nothing about the Fae? Do not place your trust in us, Mortal. All the stories you tell your littles about us and you still don’t understand. We are not bound by such relationships as you prize. We take lovers, but without the childish expectation of love that you chase all your brief lives. You speak of betrayal as if it were some terrible offense. To us, it is merely another turn in a game of power.
Terry: Do you keep your promises?
Aeon: Ah, well that is a different story. What I bind my name to, takes a payment, a tithe if you will. And if I break that oath, I will forfeit a part of myself. We take our word seriously; it is our very selves. You Mortals, who talk of the pain of betrayal, you break your word without thought, without consequence. For all the centuries I have known the ephemerals, this I will never understand. Raised among you as she was, Lydia still understands the weight of a promise, though it would be easier for her if she did not.
Terry: What is your favorite scent? Why?
Aeon: The scent of a just ripe peach. At the heart of my maze, there is a garden. At the heart of that garden, is my peach tree. It is the oldest tree in Faerie and its fruit reminds me of my life before this punishment. The only time the thorns do not torment me is when I am beneath its boughs.
Often, if a book doesn’t capture my interest within the first few pages, I lose interest. That wasn’t the case with the Between. It’s really my first YA book and I found it thoroughly enjoyable.
The beginning grabbed me with intrigue and action. In Lydia, I could tell there was a character for me to care about. Clive gave me that added mystery of a man battling to be more that what he appeared. Watching these two characters grow was fascinating to say the least. Their challenges, frustrations, losses, and triumphs were woven so well into the story that you could not help but feel for them.
I’m one who loves magic and a great world. Sprinkle in some mystery and a great story and I’m in. This book gave me all of that. The world created here in Faerie was one of political intrigue, darkness, all things magical, and one that was so well thought out that you will believe you are there. You will believe in the glamours you see upon the pages. You will feel the tenseness of the world, the grip of its King, the fear those of power instill upon others.
As for style. LJ has it nailed. Her prose flowed well. Not once did I get bored or wished to put the book down. Her descriptions were crisp and rich and kept you right there, living in the world of the Between.
From beginning to end, the Between makes for good reading. As I often do when I read a good book, all I can say now is: go get your copy.
I get very attached to people. Although I love introducing new characters, both as protagonists and as support, there are certain stalwarts I come back to time and again. Especially the Traveller.
I’ve known the Traveller since I was at school, when I wrote a poem about a man doomed to eternal wandering. He originally had a name, but I very soon decided that was just the local word for “traveller”, which gradually came to be his actual name, sometimes translated when he stayed in one place long enough for the origin of what he was called to be forgotten.
Originally, he was a minor character in my (still unfinished) trilogy The Winter Legend. His role has considerably increased over the years, but he’s still a supporting character. From the 90s, though, I started writing short stories about incidents in his backstory – or sometimes his future story.
One of the things that has changed over the years was the whole “doomed to eternal wandering” concept. Maybe it’s the privilege of a teenager to present a romantic image of immortality’s curse, but the older I’ve got, the harder it’s been to see the downside. Thousands of years of life and the freedom to wander all over the world – yes, I’d take a curse like that.
So now the Traveller is a restless explorer, born with an insatiable curiosity about the world and the lifespan to indulge it, together with a moral imperative that drags him, sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly, into helping the oppressed. He sails on an enchanted ship, Searcher, that he can crew purely with his will. Rather like I’d love to be, if I were less lazy.
Three characters, I think, have influenced the Traveller most, sometimes consciously, sometimes less so. One clear parallel is Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner. Like the Mariner, the Traveller is an immortal who sails on a magical ship; he’s atoning, to some extent, for something in his past; he has “strange powers of speech”. And his personal emblem is an albatross in flight.
On the other hand, in some ways he’s the complete opposite. He’s in control of his ship, rather than being a helpless passenger; the trauma he’s suffered wasn’t of his own making; and, instead of enduring a curse that forces him to wander, the Traveller loves his life.
Another strong influence was a largely forgotten S&S series from 70s by Karl Edward Wagner, featuring a character called Kane. Supposedly the Biblical Cain wandering through the prediluvian world, Kane is sometimes the hero of his stories and sometimes the villain, but what attracted me most was the way that each story is set in different lands and a different era, although we sometimes get echoes of kingdoms seen in another story. Kane, though, is very much a morally ambiguous anti-hero, and what I wanted to do was created a similar series with a hero – human and flawed, but an idealist.
(Incidentally, if anyone’s looking for a great S&S series, I can thoroughly recommend Kane, if you can get hold of the books.)
The third influence shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it didn’t occur to me till someone else pointed it out. I’ve been a huge fan of Doctor Who ever since I watched the first episode as a young child, the day after Kennedy was shot, and the Traveller bears more than a passing resemblance to the Doctor. Both are inveterate wanderers and incorrigible meddlers, travelling in miraculous craft, sometimes alone and sometimes with companions.
I’m quite happy about the similarities, but some are strangely coincidental. Two major parallels – the gift for understanding and speaking any language, and the terrible war that haunts the hero – didn’t appear in Doctor Who until I’d already written about their equivalents for the Traveller. I certainly wasn’t influenced by Doctor Who in those respects, and I’m assuming Russell T. Davies hadn’t read any Traveller stories.
Not counting stories where he appears as a supporting character, the Traveller features so far in sixteen short stories and a novel, At An Uncertain Hour. So far, the novel and six of the stories have been published, though I have a collection of the Traveller’s stories contracted.
He’s also spawned two spin-off series, as well as many individual tales set in the same world. One features Eltava, a companion and lover from early in the Traveller’s life. She was intended simply as a cameo in the novel, but she wouldn’t lie down afterwards. I’ve now written seven stories about her, six of which have been published and one recently accepted by Aoife’s Kiss. Eltava is, perhaps, more of an action hero than the Traveller, who prefers to out-think his enemies if he can.
The other series is about two teenage sorcerers and troublemakers called Karaghr and Failiu, whose saga begins with an encounter with the Traveller. These are somewhat lighter in tone, though with dark undercurrents, and so far all three have been published – most recently, The Temple of Taak-Resh was published as an ebook by Darwin’s Evolutions.
The Traveller’s world – it has no name, though I sometimes jokingly refer to it as the Travellerverse – is extensive, both geographically and historically. So far, I’ve written stories that go back to their neolithic era, and stories from their computer age (in one case, both of those in the same story). The City of Ferrid, a story of a Victorian-style era of steam-trains and factories, was published as a chap-book by Crystal Codices, but is sadly now out of print.
I said earlier that the Traveller lives the kind of life I somewhat envy, so is he “really” me? No, I don’t think so. I never deliberately base characters specifically on any real person, least of all myself – I both write and read to explore the other-than-me, not to psychoanalyse myself. Of course, all characters are, to some extent, built out of the people I’ve known, but not in a straightforward way. All my experience, direct and indirect, together with things I’ve read and thought, goes into a vast melting-pot, and what comes out when I write, though made of that experience, bears little resemblance to the raw materials,
No, the Traveller is, I’d say, more like a friend – someone I have plenty in common with, but who can show me things I’d never find in myself. Still, we do have plenty of similarities, especially in outlook. While the Traveller acknowledges many regrets in his long, strange life, he insists that “a life without regrets is a life not lived.” Rather than dwelling on the past, on what he’s lost, his eyes are on the next opportunity, the next friend or lover, the land that might lie just over the horizon. He keeps going forward, never losing his curiosity and his joy in life. Though I can’t live forever, I hope I always have the will to do the same.
Links to Nyki Blatchley: