Category: Book Reviews Page 1 of 3

In the Shadow of Deimos

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Terraforming Mars book In the Shadow of Deimos by Jane Killick, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let this cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What Is Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a strategy board game designed by Jacob Fryxelius, in which you work to raise the temperature of Mars and make it habitable for human life

Players take on the role of a corporation that work together to terraform Mars, and advance human infrastructure throughout the Sol system.

The game is incredibly successful and has five expansions, a Big Box, and a spin off game.

It also has a digital version available on Windows, iOS, MacOS, iPadOS & Android.

The Story

Set in the year 2316 not long after the formation of the Terraforming Committee, a rogue asteroid crashes into a research centre and kills its sole occupant, which kicks off an investigation, an official one by Julie, the head of the UNs terraforming team, and an unofficial one by Lucas, a recent immigrant to Mars who witnessed the disaster.

As they start to dig into the accident, they quickly learn that things on Mars aren’t quite right and the corporations are keen to cover things up, to prevent damage to their profits.

At the heart of this story its a good old fashioned murder mystery, and that’s its strength, it takes a genre of book which works and gives it the sci-fi twist.

The book is one which gives the reader a broader scope than the characters, who themselves are approaching the investigation from very different sides, and you figure out things before them, and see how they reach the same conclusion as you as more information is revealed to them.

There is a healthy number of side characters as well, all of whom are responsibly well rounded and that makes the setting feel ever more real.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this book, the story itself was competent and entertaining, but what elevated it for me was the realistic science. All too often books in sci-fi assume we will have invented fantastical machines to work miracles and wonders, but this book is more grounded and whilst things have advanced, its not unrealistic.

Things like characters returning to earth needing time in physio to readjust to the heavier gravity, just little things like that which really stand out as showing how much attention to detail there is.

My favourite scene was one in the mess hall where Lucas and some friends were playing football, and the way the author has realistically described how different a ball would behave in a lower gravity environment, plus it showed how even on the frontier, people find a way to goof off.

There are scenes that make you think, and some high paced adrenaline fuelled parts which get your heart racing, and both in a nice balance. In particular the pacing is good, it never feels too slow or too fast, just right as it builds up to the conclusion.

This is a very strong book, Mars has been the subject to many many books written about it, and for me this felt just as good as Kim Stanley Robinsons Mars trilogy, and frankly is Hugo material.

I solidly recommended this book and give it 5 stars out of 5.


You can buy the ebook now, and the paperback is published on the 11th Novermber.


Outlaw: Relentless

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Heroines book Outlaw: Relentless by Tristan Palmgren published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let these things cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

Also I won’t lie, I have looked at other reviews to see what others think, so there may be some influences from them in this book review. If I am going to quote them, I will attribute them. But if I forget to, or something is highly influenced by them, and you think I ought to attribute someone, let me know so that I can.

What is Marvel

Look at this point I would bore you with a bit of background to the game/universe, but lets not, you all know the Marvel Universe, if you don’t have you been living under a rock!

The Marvel Heroines series focuses on the female hero’s of the Marvel universe, Tristan wrote the first book in the series, Domino Strays, which I really enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this book.

The Story

This is not an origin story, this picks up very much in the middle of The Hotshots, the posse lead by Domino being a thing, and begins with them doing a job for Tony Stark, by seizing an AIM freighter headed for Boston.

When the job goes south, Inez Temple, AKA Outlaw finds herself taking the blame, and starts wondering if she is losing her mind and her health as she feels run down and seems to be missing parts of her time.

She has always counted on her wits to survive, but now feels like she is being robbed of it. Taking a journey back home to Texas, via the Xavier Institute, she has to face her past to find out why she seems to be losing herself.

Look I don’t want to go too much into the story, because frankly, I don’t want to spoil it for you, and much more would spoil it.

The story draws a lot from Outlaws limited history within the comics, which despite her being only a very recent addition to the comics, is still quite rich.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything as everything you need to know is explained in the story, its very good, in the way it portrays the background you need as almost wandering thoughts within Outlaws mind as she tries to make sense of what’s going on.

Conclusion

I can’t lie, The Hotshots is one of my favourite super teams, there are kickass women, who despite having very different background and abilities, actually get on very well, a real sisterhood. This novel is set slightly before that really clicks into place and there is still a bit of tension between the original members of Dominos Posse, and the newer recruits, but by the end, they are well on their way to being that tightknit team.

This story is full of action, but at the same time is quite introspective, there is a lot of time alone, that Outlaw has to think about the journey that lead her to where she is now. The way it sort of beats around her fear that she may be developing a form of dementia is actually really emotional.

The book contains links to some of the other Aconyte Marvel novels, which I loved, although one of them I haven’t yet read, but I can see myself buying it.

I am not sure what else to say, this book is super enjoyable and I literally devoured it in two sittings.

Absolutely a 5 out of 5 stars from me, and I really hope Tristan does more Hotshots novels.


The eBook is out now and the paperback hits the shelves on 11th November.


The Serpent and The Dead

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legends of Asgard book The Serpent and The Dead by Anna Stephens, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

Also I won’t lie, I have looked at other reviews to see what others think, so there may be some influences from them in this book review. If I am going to quote them, I will attribute them. But if I forget to, or something is highly influenced by them, and you think I ought to attribute someone, let me know so that I can.

What is Marvel

Look at this point I would bore you with a bit of background to the game/universe, but lets not, you all know the Marvel Universe, if you don’t have you been living under a rock!

The Legends of Asgard novels specially focus on the Norse mythology influenced Asgard with characters like Thor, Odin and Loki.

The Story

This story focuses on Lady Sif and the Valkyrie Brunnhilde as they investigate why the souls of slain warriors, including Sifs friend Gyda.

Travelling across Asgard, to try and get to the bottom of why worthy warriors are not reaching the promised afterlife and confront the dark forces behind this.

While they say its a story with a team of two, Brunnhildes girlfriend, Inge, also plays a pivotal part. And this story is a story of friendship and trust, with the relationship between the three protagonists being deep and very interesting, as the three characters all have their own distinct personality and role. Sif is the warrior, bold and brash, Brunnhilde is more thoughtful and wants a plan rather than rushing in, and then Inge is the diplomat who bridges the gulf between these two.

Of course Sif is convinced that Loki, the Trickster god, is behind the horror, and so they start a journey to find him and confront him.

Conclusion

This is a really good story, it is, at its heart an action book that quickly moves from battle to battle with little time in between, and the action itself is very well written.

That said the moments of the book I enjoyed the most, were the quieter more insightful moments in which we got a better idea of the motivations behind why the characters have chosen to undertake this quest.

There is a deep appreciation for Norse mythology in this book and it feels very well researched and whilst its identifiable a Marvel book, its not so deeply Marvel, that you need to be too familiar with that fandom to appreciate this book.

Its an interesting mixture of action adventure, epic quest, Norse mythology and a little bit of superhero mixed together, which means I think it will really appeal to a lot of people.

The thing I really loved about this book though is the characters, they were at once very identifiable as the characters from the comics, with a nice twist from the author to make them her own, and the comradery and relationships, both platonic and romantic, between these three strong female characters made this a real joy to read.

The only thing I would have liked different, would be more of those quiet character building moments, but I hope to see Anna write more Legends of Asgard novels.

4 out of 5 stars!


You can buy the eBook now and the paperback gets a release on the 28th October


Pandemic: Patient Zero

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Pandemic book Pandemic: Patient Zero by Amanda Bridgeman, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let this cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What Is Pandemic

Pandemic is a cooperative board game designed by Matt Leacock, in the game you work together to discover the cure for several diseases rampaging though the world.

Players take on various roles, such as medic, dispatcher, scientist, quarantine expert etc and though the combined efforts, collect enough data and information to find the cures to save the world.

The game is incredibly successful and has three expansions for itself as well as numerous spin off games and variations. As well as the extremely popular Legacy versions of the game.

My personal current favourite is Pandemic: Hot Zone North America.

The Story

The story starts with a nun falling ill in Peru, and quickly the disease she later dies from starts popping up in Brazil and Columbia too.

It’s a new disease to which humanity has no immunity and it rapidly kills those it infects.

The Global Health Agency dispatches a team from its base in Lyon to discover the cause of this disease and hopefully find a cure.

We have a cast who roughly represent many of the possible roles within the Pandemic board game, and a nice mixture of nationalities and genders. There is also an interesting little bit of minor subplot about one of the field team finding it more difficult to traverse the world due to her being from Nigeria rather than the US, UK or Australia.

The story takes us on a hunt for the source of the disease, from Lima, into the jungle and down the Amazon river and then deep into a drug lords village as the team desperately search for patient zero and understand how this disease came into existence.

Conclusion

Look I need to be straight up here, I got Covid early on in the pandemic, it took a third of my lungs from me and has ruined my lungs to the point where I can’t climb stairs without an inhaler.

This book was extremely difficult to read because it quite often referred to Covid in the past tense, when Covid is still very much with us and killing people.

The book itself is well written, it’s a by the numbers virus outbreak kind of story, nowt ground breaking but well done and brilliantly written with relatable characters.

But it feels far too soon for a book to talk about Covid as being in the past, had I known this book would have done this, I would never have read it.

So it comes down to this, if you can handle many references to Covid and a new respiratory disease, then it’s a good book to read, but if like me you basically have PTSD when it comes to Covid, I would strongly advise giving this book a miss for now.

Just for now though, because it is a good book, but frankly it needs a trigger warning, I donMt know why I pushed myself to keep reading, I really shouldn’t have.

I don’t know how to score this book so I am going to ignore my instincts which are to refuse to score it because of how much it triggered my PTSD and made my chest feel incredibly tight.

It’s a well written book with a good story so I will give it a 4 out of 5 stars, but as I said, it desperately needs a proper trigger warning.


The book is published as an ebook on 7th September and will hit bookstores on the 11th November.


Target Kree

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Crisis Protocol book Target Kree by Stuart Moore, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let this cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Marvel

Look at this point I would bore you with a bit of background to the game/universe, but lets not, you all know the Marvel Universe, if you don’t have you been living under a rock!

Marvel Crisis Protocol is a tabletop skirmish miniatures game from Atomic Mass Games based on the Marvel comic characters, with its starter set conations five of the Avengers (Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Black Widow) and five of the Kabel (Barron Zemo, Red Skull, Crossbones, Doctor Octopus and Ultron).

I own the core set and its well worth investing into, if you fancy it you can purchase it from my Element Games affiliate link!

The Story

The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy team up in a search for a planet killer amongst a group of Kree refugees on earth working for Tony Stark.

The story starts with the Guardians of the Galaxy trying to save which is in the middle of being destroyed, but they sadly fail and lose a beloved member in the process.

The story then picks up on earth six months later as the Guardians hunt down the planet killer and Tony Stark (Iron Man) faces the wrath of Jennifer Walters (She Hulk) and Kamala Khan (Ms Marvel) over the conditions of the refugees from the planet, but of course the Guardians crash the party and chaos ensues.

You know what there isn’t much to talk about in regards to the plot, its very simply and as it develops you end up with a huge number of Marvel characters making an appearance, most included in Crisis Protocol, but at least two who are not.

Conclusion

This is a hard book to review, on the one hand, it’s filled with lots of fun and some cool interesting fight sequences.

But there is way too much fighting and not enough stories, especially when you are cramming so many characters into the book.

At points it’s felt like they were just throwing in extra characters for the sake of it, I mean there is a scene with Black Panther that goes nowhere and serves no purpose other than to have Black Panther in the book.

The characters all want the same thing but they are too busy fighting each other to figure that out, and that’s not exactly in keeping with the characters.

The book starts off great, the first part is fantastic, but honestly, I think this would have been better as a comic rather than a prose book.

But then again it is promoting a skirmish combat game.

It’s a 3 1/2 stars from me, and had it just had a bit more dialogue and story in it, it could have really been a lot better. That’s not to say its bad, its actually quite fun, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping it would be.

But if all you want is literally a fun beat-em-up story, give this a go as it is rather entertaining.

The eBook is released this Friday the 6th July and the paperback hits the shelves on the 2nd September.


The Devourer Below

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book The Devourer Below edited by Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

Stories in this collection are written by Evan Dicken, Georgina Kamsika, Thomas Parrott, Josh Reynolds, David Annadale, Davide Mana & Cath Lauria.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

Also I am friends with a couple of the authors on social media, not that we are close friends, for them its probably about connecting with fans rather than wanting to be my pal!

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Arkham Horror

Anyway that put to one side, let’s look at this book, by first looking at the game Arkham Horror which is a cooperative game, originally designed by Richard Launius, and is now in its third edition which was released in 2019.

It’s published by Fantasy Flight Games, a subsidiary of Asmodee, and is set in 1926 in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Each player takes on the role of an investigator, who are working to stop the Ancient Ones, eldritch horrors which lurk in the void beyond space and time.

It’s a 1-6 player game and you work together to gather clues and defeat the evil of the Ancient Ones and save the world.

As I said I haven’t actually played Arkham Horror but I do own its spin off Elder Sign the cooperative dice game.

The Story

Like the rest of the Arkham Horror novels, its set in the 1920s, and this collection of short stories all feature characters from the upcoming new revised edition of the Arkham Horror Card Game Core Set.

So lets look at each story one by one and I will give you some brief thoughts on them.

Running the Night Whiskey – Evan Dicken

This story is about Leo, a war veteran who runs into an old comrade in arms and gets himself involved with a bootlegging run with very sinister consequences.

This story was fantastic to open the book as it really did have a loveable protagonist who whilst a bit naughty, but very loveable.

The story has hints of horror that finally culminate in an ending which is quite eldritch, and sets up the rest of what’s to come very nicely.

Shadows Dawning – Georgina Kamsika

Lita Chandler, a recent widower whose husband was murdered by cultists, is desperately trying to get revenge.

The story wasn’t big on horror as the others, but was interesting to read as Lita seemed to get more and more desperate as the story went on, there was a real sense that she had lost all control of herself in her desire for vengence.

You really do find yourself rooting for her.

The Hounds Below – Josh Reynolds

This is in my opinion the strongest story in the collection as a journalist, Holsten manages to convince the doctors at Arkham Asylum to let him interview Mr Drew, a war veteran with a particularly gruesome compulsion.

This story is very sinister and chilling as we slowly hear the backstory of Mr Drew and his decent into depravity and madness. The ending is very intense and an extremely horrific twist, a real page turner.

Labyrinth – Thomas Parrott

This is part one of a two parter and is the most unique of the stories, being the telling of a story from Greek Antiquity in a Lovecraftian way.

Joe Diamond is trying to save the life of an innocent girl and his research leads him to find a connection to the myths of the Minotaur from Greek myths, and its very horror filled.

The time jump was a bit weird, and this finish left me a little confused, but the second part resolved that issue, but it would have been nice if it was clear that this was a two part story as that wasn’t clear to me.

Its a really solid story and shows that the world of the Cthulhu mythos isn’t confined to a small part of New England.

All my Friends are Monsters – Davide Mana

This is one of my favourite stories as it sees the morgue worker, Ruth Turner find herself blackmailed into helping sinister and dark forces when her other life of cross-dressing, speakeasy visits and a queer relationship is discovered.

This is a tragic tale of how Ruth slowly finds herself getting involved deeper and deeper with the cult. Its a deeply engaging tale and you find yourself rooting for her and Charlie.

The plot is in my opinion the most engaging in the book and it got me hooked more so than the others.

The Darkling Woods – Cath Lauria

This is an okay story, but I found it less engaging than the others simply because it felt so obvious in its nature.

The characters didn’t speak to me and the plot felt rather forced.

But it was really well written and cleverly crafted story, I just couldn’t connect with it, and I felt it lacked the same horror as the other stories, but that was just me and I am sure others will feel differently.

Professor Warren’s Investiture – David Annandale

This story shows how easy it is to succumb to darkness and evil, as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In this story Professor Warren has been working on a book about the occult for the past two decades, mocked by his colleagues at Miskatonic University, when a mysterious woman approaches him at the library and offers him all the occult secrets he ever desired.

Professor Warren feelings of anger and humiliation come through quite well and this story really does show how he was susceptible to the approach of the cultists.

Its a very interesting story in the way it plays with your emotions, you sympathise with Professor Warren, but at the same time are horrified by his choices.

Sins in the Blood – Thomas Parrott

The conclusion to Labyrinth and sees Joe Diamond team up with a waitress called Agness to save the life of Nadia.

I enjoyed this one, the pacing was just right and it built upon very solid foundations from the first part with the characters involved in a race against time and cultists to prevent Nadias life being taken by a horror of the old times.

My only negative comment about this story is that Joe kind of got overshadowed by Agness, despite his being the hero of sorts, perhaps had Agness been involved in the first story that would have felt better. But they had to do a lot to shoehorn her and her story into the limited time she featured.

Conclusion

This was a very enjoyable and creepy book, a lot of emotions were played with and some fantastic characters to root for, or be horrified by.

There were of course stories I enjoyed more than others, but in general they complimented each other very well and built a general idea about the particular cult who form the antagonists in this collection.

The length of each story was just right and allowed me to dip in and out over a couple of days, making it a very very easy to read book.

Its a good primer for the general idea of Lovecraftian horror and sets up the card game very well, potentioally giving you new insight to the characters you will play with.

The editing I would add is extremely good, other than the slight confusion about the two partner, nothing feels off, and the stories flow very nicely from one to another.

A good balanced anthology that leaves you wanting more.

5 out of 5 Stars


The eBook is out on the 6th July and the paperback on September 2nd.


Helsreach

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Black Library Masterworks book Helsreach by Aaron Dembski-Bowden published by Black Library, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first, I am also friends with Aaron on Facebook, but I suspect that’s more about him connecting with fans rather than being a big fan of mine!

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Warhammer 40,000

Warhammer 40,000 is a miniatures Wargame set in the 41st Millennium and published by Games Workshop. It is the worlds most popular miniature Wargame.

In the 40k universe, the Imperium of Man, a stagnant human empire in which scientific and cultural progress have ceased, individuals matter very little and exist only to oil the machines of war.

The Imperium is under siege from the forces of Chaos, and various Xenos races.

The setting owes a lot to the influence of Lovecraft, Tolkien, Milton, Herbert and a lot of 2000 AD with a sprinkling of 1980s political satire.

It’s a setting in which there is little hope and is often described as being Grimdark after the marketing line, in the Grim Darkness of the Future, There Is Only War.

The Story

This story is set during the third war for Armageddon and focuses on as the title implies, the Siege of Helsreach.

The Third War for Armageddon saw this cursed world, invaded by Orks lead by the Beast, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka (an example of some of Games Workshops 1980s satire).

Helsreach is an important port and promethium refinery on the Tempest Sea, and is defended by forces of the Armageddon Steel Legion, the titans of Legio Invigilata, sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud and a small force of Black Templars lead by newly promoted Reclusiarch Merek Grimaldus.

This story explores the events that lead to Grimaldus attaining the tile of Hero of Helsreach, as originally told in Codex: Armageddon back in the days of 3rd Edition in 2000.

The story is told from multiple points of view, not only Grimaldus, but also includes Zarha Mancion the Crone of Invigilata, and possibly one of the funniest and most charming characters in all of 40k, Andrej Valatok.

The story is one of defiance in the face of hopeless odds, the characters all know they will lose, they questions is how long can they last before they succumb to the endless stampede of the Orks. As plots go, it’s pretty straightforward.

Conclusion

Helsreach is a masterpiece, and I am going to be honest, I am a huge fan of Aaron, he is able to conjure up an emotional response from a book whose main focus is on Dakka.

The book was originally published under the Space Marines Battles banner, books who generally were considered to be Bolter Porn, but in reality they were often a lot more than that. This book, the second in the series, very much set the standard of being action based books, that could be well written and emotionally evocative.

There is an interaction at the end of the book, which will make you weep for the character, it’s honestly one of the best written character arcs in all of Black Library fiction, despite it being relatively short.

If you have previously dismissed fiction as action books for teenage boys, I would strongly suggest you give this novel a read, ok you need a little bit of background to 40K to understand some stuff, but only a very surface level amount, but it’s well worth a read.

Seriously Aaron has yet to write a bad book, this was only his second Black Library novels and there is a very good reason he is considered one of the greatest writers ever signed up by Games Workshop.

5 out of 5 Stars


Helsreach is available now as an eBook, MP3 Audiobook and Hardback as a Masterworks.

eBook

Audiobook

Hardback


The Necropolis Empire

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Twilight Imperium book The Necropolis Empire by Tim Pratt, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium is a much beloved strategy board game published by Fantasy Flight Games that’s currently in its 4th Edition.

First thing to know, it’s very long, my pal Drew, one of the owners of the amazing Meeple Perk, tells me it’s an 8 hour game as a minimum!

Secondly it’s an epic space opera, set in the power vacuum left behind by the decline and collapse of the Lazax Empire, as various races and factions vie for dominance and to become the new galactic superpower.

The Story

The story is about a young girl, Bianca Xing from a remote farming world, whom has spent a lifetime yearning to leave her provincial planet and travel to the stars, but she has a yearning to travel to a certain part of space.

But when her world is annexed by the Barony of Letnev, she is whisked away, told she is the daughter of a scientist of ancient renown, and the heir to a great fortune. But in actual fact, she has a hidden secret hidden within her DNA, secrets that could change the course of the galaxy.

Teaming up with Dampierre a determined Letnev captain, and a crew of treasure hunters turned smugglers, she goes on an adventure to the edge of known space to discover the home world of an ancient civilisation.

This was a big improvement on the last story and in all honesty I expected this to be a continuation of the last story, but its a totally different one with only two recurring characters.

This worked better because there were fewer obvious clichés and it just felt a lot more natural.

Conclusion

As with the Fractured void, this is a fun and enjoyable space opera, just my taste and this is exactly what I needed to read.

There was humour and the clichés that were there, were very well done.

I really struggled to put this book down and was awake until 3am two mornings running because I was just enjoying it so much.

I am really not sure what else to say, its a great read, and even if you have no background knowledge of the game or universe, this is utterly entertaining and wonderful to read.

I know Tim is a great writer and I know I had some mild criticism of his last book, but this seems to have acknowledged all of that, and gone on to produce a better book that takes the good qualities of that and knock it up several notches.

I expected this to be a straight sequel to the last book, but this was a totally different story and it really feels like Tim is doing a lot of world building here, that is really deep and most of all, fun.

More please.

5 out of 5


The Necropolis Empire is out as an eBook on the 3rd August and as paperback on the 14th October.


The Ming Storm

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Assassins Creed book The Ming Storm by Yan Lei Sheng, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

So let’s crack on with a review then!

What is Assassin Creed

Assassins Creed is an adventure game franchise published by Ubisoft (One of my Edge of Empire Co-hosts works there as well I should probably mention), and depicts a millennia-old conflict between the Assassins, who fight to preserve free will, and the Templars who desire to bring around peace by controlling people.

The games take place throughout various historical periods, the original 2007 game being set in the era of the 3rd Crusades, and the latest game Assassins Creed Valhalla, set in the Viking Invasion of Britain.

This book is based on Assassins Creed Chronicles China.

The Story

This takes part after the short film, Assassins Creed: Embers in 1526 China and features the female assassin, Shao Jun, who has returned from Europe where she trained with the protagonmist of the second game, Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

She returns to China to fight the Eight Tigers, a group of eunuchs aligned with the Templars in the court of the Jianjing Emperor.

Prior to the novel, the Eight Tigers had all but wiped out the Assassins of China, leaving just Shao Jun and her mentor alive, so this is very much a story about revenge.

Conclusion

Look I wanted to love this book I really did, I am a big fan of the games, but this book just didn’t work, it was not an enjoyable read at all.

There is no real flow to the book as so much technical detail is thrown in, and it just gets so mired in trying to describe every single kung-fu move being used and its meaning.

The narrative changes point of view in a way that makes you have to go back and go right when did this characters point of view come in, I had to reread so much simply because there was little warning when the perspective changed.

It should have been a great action novel and don’t get me wrong, the story itself is really good, excellent in fact, but I struggled to read it, its just doesn’t work.

I hate giving a bad review it hurts me, but I see potential in this book, a round of editing to deal with the persepective changes and some heavy cuts to make the fight scenes flow better and I think that underneath is a good novella.

But it feels like its been padded out to make a novel.

2 out of 5 stars.


The Ming Storm is out as an eBook now and as paperback on the 19th August.


Mood:- In Agony
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed:– 4
In My Ears:Chicken Wing Song – Leo Moracchioli
Tabletop Game Last Played:- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Fluxx
Video Game Last Played:- Forza Horizon 4
Book Last Read:- The Necropolis Empire – Tim Pratt
Movie/TV Show Last Viewed:- Parks and Recreation
Current State of Projects:- Blackstone Fortress Explorers about 50% Done

Death’s Kiss

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legend of the Five Rings book Death’s Kiss by Josh Reynolds, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am also friend with Josh on Facebook, however I am sure for him that’s more about connecting with fans rather than being one of my best buds, that said he is actually a really nice guy.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

So let’s crack on with a review then!

What is Legend of the Five Rings

L5R as it’s often known is a fantasy setting for a series of card games and RPGs originally published by AEG, but now taken care of by Fantasy Flight.

It’s set in the empire of Rokugan which is heavily feudal Japan influenced, with a bit of other East Asian influences, like China and Korea thrown in as well.

It’s a fantasy setting with the usual fantasy tropes of goblins and rat men, but also oni and kitsune too.

The Story

Daidoji Shin is a an aristocrat of the Crane clan banished to the City of the Rich Frog, to serve as his clans trade envoy.

In the last book Poison River his talent as a detective was discovered as he foiled a plot to bring the cities various factions to war.

And since then it seems he has become a very in demand fella, and the owner of a theatre (which he did sort of get burnt down). And when a powerful friend asks him to investigate the circumstances of a murder in another city.

The murderer is in custody and her execution is called for by the family of the man she killed, but the local magistrate is holding her as he attempts to figure out why the incident occurred as he tries to avoid the two families from coming to blows in the street.

With a woman’s life on the line, Shin throws himself into the case and ends up getting caught up in a sinister plan by a group of revolutionaries that wish to change the empire forever.

Conclusion

I am gonna put my cards on the table here, and say that whilst I liked this book, I felt is should have come further down the line.

The City of the Rich Frog was so well established in the last book, so well developed with an interesting cast of background characters who made it so deeply interesting, that I really missed that in this book.

Don’t get me wrong, Josh did a wonderful job in establishing a new city and new characters, but I just didn’t gel with them as well as I did those from the previous book.

He has set up some interesting possibilities for future books however with this novel.

Again we continue that Holmesian tribute act that Shin is, and it’s a very good one, the case may be straightforward but Shin needs to understand the why, not simply the how. He tenacity not only leads to a resolution that’s best for all the families.

I really enjoyed this book, knowing what happened did lend the twist as we tried to figure out the reasons for the crime, because they really do matter, and whilst there was some general predictability, it wasn’t glaringly obvious.

Instead the book makes you feel smart as you go “ahh I think I know”, then leads you to they why, what giving it’s all a bit of a twist.

This novel felt a bit more pulpy than the last one, not a bad thing, but it was an easy and enjoyable read that was hard to put down.

Josh has built a very interesting little corner of Rokugan and I really want to spend more time there.

I am actually currently thinking about perhaps running an RPG campaign in the City of the Rich Frog, I am that enamoured with the work Josh has done.

It’s 4 out of 5 for me and I only drop a star because I feel like the characters life in the City of the Rich Frog needed more development before he went elsewhere.


Deaths Kiss is out as an eBook on the 1st June and as paperback on the 19th August.


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