Tag: Review Page 1 of 2

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


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.


Rogue Untouched

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Heroines book Rogue Untouched by Alisa Kwitney, 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 Marvel Heroines series focuses on the female hero’s of the Marvel universe, the first book in the series was Domino Strays, which I really enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this book.

The Story

This is an origin story for our favourite power absorbing mutant Anne Marie also known as Rogue, and this is firmly set in the Aconyte-618 Earth, so its been able to abandon many of the fine details about Rogues 616 backstory and reimagine it in a slightly more modern and interesting way.

The character of Rogue has been depicted very differently in the many media forms in which she has appeared outside the comics, with only the 90s Cartoon being close to it. In the movies, she was basically Kitty Pryde, but fit into that story they were making.

Here in this novel she is probably a mixture of the comics, cartoon and movies, to form a well developed character, who when we meet her, has no idea that she is even a mutant, and is subsisting as a waitress in a diner. That is until she encounters a handsome Cajun gambler, who brings her into a whole new world.

In this book, Rogue is a character who is unsure of herself, having put her high school boyfriend into a coma, she is just trying to get out of her small town so that she can go to university and study psychology. We get to see her interactions with her friend, neighbours, boss and overly religious aunt, which really does give us a great background for the character.

The story is told in a first person persepective and we really do get to know Rogue, better than I think we ever have before, especially in this early part of her life. We do see the internal trauma she has from the earliest manifestations of her powers, but I do feel like this is kinda put aside in place of more focus on the self-doubt, but another reviewer (Katie Clark) pointed out that having the trauma happen before the events of the novel, allowed us to see her become a more empowered woman, which I agree with.

Conclusion

This book is a very enjoyable read, although parts of the conclusion felt a little bit rushed, and I did like that as well as well known mutants like Pyro and Toad being featured, we also had lesser known ones like Zeitgeist and Nature Girl, and even some mutants who I am not at all familiar with, one of who I think was created for this story.

The Characters are super three-dimensional, there is no wasted characters here, and even those with bit parts feel a lot more fleshed out than I would have expected them to be.

Also the little reference to The 10th Kingdom, made me smile as I thought that was an awesome mini-series.

I think this book deserves a solid 4.5 stars out of 5, and I only knock it down a touch because the ending felt a little rushed and I think another chapter or two would have been appreciated.

There is also nice room in there for sequels, and I really hope that there are some.

The eBook is released on the 4th May and the paperback hits the shelves on 10th June.


The Shield of Daqan

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Descent: Journeys in the Dark book The Shield of Daqan written by David Guymer and 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.

Secondly I am a friend of Davidon Facebook, and whilst we aren’t best buds, we do interact with each other on occasion and I consider him a class person.

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.

What’s is Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Simply put Descent: Journeys in the Dark is good old fashioned dungeon crawler whose linage goes all the way back to Heroquest.

Based very much on the Doom board game published by Fantasy Flight Games, you can see influences from across the gaming hobby, with bits from Space Hulk and Lord of the Rings being identifiable.

It’s set in the world of Terrinoth, a setting shared with Runewars, Runeage and a few other games and RPGs published by Fantasty Flight Games.

It’s a high fantasy universe and you will recognise many of the tropes and races seen in other similar fantasy style settings. It’s not particularly unique, but it is fairly well developed and interesting.

Descent is the dungeon crawler game in that universe, with one player being the evil overlord of the dungeon and the others taking in the tiles of the hero’s.

For a dungeon crawler, let’s be honest it’s one of the best out there, and the only reason it’s not in my collection is that Lindsay and Megan aren’t as enthusiastic about high fantasy as I am!

The Story

This book is honestly a real page turner, I devoured it in two sittings, it really is that good.

Told from multiple points of view like the Song of Ice and Fire books, this really is a engrossing and wonderful book to read, my favourite of Aconytes books thus far.

The book tells the story of the invasion of the Barony of Kell, once the last bastion against the evil from beyond the veil, and now is a shadow of its former self, assailed by bandits and famine. The noble Baron is a leader who cares for his people and he has found himself caught between the trap of feeding his people or defending them, without the manpower to do both. The Barony now faces an invasion of the barbarous Uthuk, led by vile Ne’Krul whose purpose is to bring her demonic masters into reality.

We have the legendary Trenloe the Strong and his Companions of Trenloe, a group of mercenaries, dedicated to protecting the people of the realm, and we are introduced to them as they escort refugees to safety. And the other hero, the holy warrior Andira Runehand, and her band of pious pilgrims, come to confront demons and stop them from entering the mortal plane.

These two heroes find themselves becoming the last hope of Kell, and through separate journeys play a part in an epic and desperate battle to save the world.

Conclusion

Its fun, its exciting, its literally dripping with personality, and what’s more, you need absolutely zero knowledge of the setting. This is a perfect franchise genre novel in my opinion.

Its absolutely character driven and not one scene in the book feels forced, everything feels like its there to drive the characters more, to give more insight to them. The first sitting, I literally devoured 65% of the book because I simply couldn’t put it down, and I only stopped because I actually feel asleep at 4am!

I cannot highly recommend this book enough, the only slight negative, is that this very much feels like the start of an epic series, and I am now desperate for the next book, so David, get writing post haste!

You can buy the eBook now and the paperback gets a release on the 15th April


The Sword of Surtur

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legends of Asgard book The Sword of Surtur by CL Werner, 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.

I am also friends with Clint on Facebook, but I suspect that’s more about him connecting with fans rather than being a big fan of mine!

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 Tyr the God of War and brother to Thor as he decides to try and outdo his sibling, by stealing Twilight, the sword of the Fire Giant Surtur.

He is joined by Bjorn Wolfsbane, a young hunter, and sister to the Encantress Amora, Lorelei. This team up is really interesting, you have two characters there who have been eclipsed by their more well known and successful sibling and there is a massive amount of envy and jealousy on display.

And jealously also has a nice role to play in the story too, as both Tyr and Bjorn find themselves drawn to the bewitching Lorelei, which has rather big consequences for Asgard.

Mostly taking place in Surturs realm of Muspelheim this book draws very heavily on Norse mythology, probably more so than the comics. In a way a lot of it reads as a love letter between Clint and Norse culture, as he really brings it to life, in a Marvel way of course.

Tyr is a character than in Marvel, should be one of the greatest and most powerful heroes, but has always taken a back seat, and that’s the same for the books primary antagonist, which makes for an interesting dynamic.

The feelings of self-doubt and envy that Tyr feels throughout the book, really make you connect with him, in a way that I never have been able to in the comics.

Frankly this is the best story featuring Tyr that I have ever read, and I have read quite a few of the comics in which he features. You really feel like he has so much potential if only he had gotten the right writer, something I think has now been corrected.

There are pacing issues, which is the only downside, some sections of the book seem to drag a little, whilst other move at a pace so brisk that I had to go back and reread to see if I missed something.

But given that’s my only complaint, I think that’s pretty good.

Conclusion

This is an extremely good book, not because it’s an epic tale of a sons quest to prove himself to his father, but because it actually makes you sympathise and actually identify with a Norse god.

The two big twists in the book, well one was obvious, but well executed, the other, well that one was a big surprise and really good.

You can buy the eBook now and the paperback gets a release on the 18th March


The Night Parade of 100 Demons

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legend of the Five Rings book The Night Parade of 100 Demons by Marie Brennan, 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 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 trips of goblins and rat men, but also oni and kitsune too.

In the Empire there are several great clans, made up of various families, and in this novel we focus on the Crab Clan, who are considered the least cultured of all clans.

Their task in life is to guard the rest of the empire from the taint of the Shadowlands on the Carpenter Wall.

The Story

Chaos has broken out in the isolated Dragon Clan village Seibo Mura, when during full moons, vicious demons rampage throughout the village, causing havoc, destroying buildings and killing villagers.

The Dragons send the samurai Agasha no Isao Ryotora to investigate the situation in the village, but an unexpected helper has arrived in the form of Asako Sekken of the Phoenix Clan.

Lets get this out the way, I have seen criticism in other reviews that the novel doesn’t have much action and the demons don’t actually feature that much, well if that’s what you want, this book isn’t for you.

This book is one that focuses on the spiritual, so it delves into the Kami, guardian spirits, demons, holy rituals and prayer. Its deeply engrained in Japanesse spiritual culture and is heavily based on the Hyakki Yakō. Not all that surprising as the author is a folklorist and anthropologist.

There is also an almost spiritual procedural investigation aspect to the story, as the pair figure out what exactly is going on in the village by interviewing the inhabitants and researching the background of the demons.

The characters are, well I will be honest, its hard to get into their heads at first. They both have secrets to hide, and they both try their best to solve the mystery whilst keeping those secrets hidden from the other. They are a bit of an odd couple, Rytotora is serious and sombre, a very straight character who despite his humble background, embodies the very nobility of the Samurai.

Sekken on the other hand is more laid back, care free, a scholar who prefers to spend his time reading rather than doing, and gives off an aura of only being there because its a break from his boredom.

The story alternatives between their points of view which is interesting, and there is a frustration that they clearly are attracted to one another but both too caught up in the whole idea that the other wouldn’t be attracted to them that you can almost tear out your hair.

And that leads me to another point, the fact that Aconyte have been very good about putting queer characters in their books, front and centre, with no song and dance about it. LGBTQ characters in their books are part of life, they exist and there is a wonderful, almost ordinary way in which they are presented.

Conclusion

I actually really loved this book, but I will be honest, it wasn’t the characters which drew me in, it was the background.

The fascinating and rather beautiful way that Marie has presented the culture and world of Rokugan drew me in and kept me turning the page.

The characters whilst mildly interesting really took a backseat to the wonderful world of L5R and this for me would be a better background read for anyone wanting to get into the RPG than any other background book as it makes the world really come to life.

Solid 4 out of 5 stars.

You can buy the eBook now and the paperback on the 15th April!


The Head of Mimir

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legends of Asgard book The Head of Mimir by Richard Lee Byers, 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 a young Heimdal and his sister Sif, as they undertake a quest to save Odin, who has been bewitched to remain in the Odinsleep during a war waged by the Frost Giants of Jotunheim.

But the Frost Giants are winning the war, and Odin is desperately needed, as somehow the natives of Jotunheim have an advantage in the war.

Breaking the rules and slipping into the inner sanctum of the Allfather, they discover a great relic is missing, the Head of Mimir, which gives advice and wisdom, having been preserved by Odin.

This story is about the quest of Heimdal and his sister as they travel through out the nine realms to retrieve the Head of Mimir and awake the Allfather.

Its a book as my friend Michael from Track of Words puts it, isn’t Heimdals origin story, but his first steps to becoming who he is in the comics as we know him.

The story has a lot of action, its very hectic and goes at a very fast pace, reminding me of an RPG adventure, but it does focus on Heimdal being a warrior who thinks about how to solve an issue, rather than simply being Leroy Jenkins.

His sister is the counterpoint the that, a warrior who wants to find the problem and kill it. In one part of the book they encounter a legendary creature, and whilst Sif would like to fight it, knowing she has no chance of beating it, Heimdal challenges it to a game, and instead of just playing the game, which he could never win, he pokes at the creatures ego to throw him off.

Conclusion

This is a great book, its a lot better than I expected, and it doesn’t bog the reader down in exposition, whilst I know the stuff about Asgard, this book would be perfectly approachable for someone without that knowledge.

Its a great blend of Marvel fantasy and Norse mythology with a sprinkle of science fiction. And the character development whilst light, is fantastic, plus the sibling rivalry and ribbing from Sif is utterly delightful.

I am really looking forward to the next Legend of Asgard book, Sword of Surtur.

You can buy the eBook and paperback now!


Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén