Tag: Review Page 1 of 3

Firewall

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Splinter Cell novel Firewall by James Swallow, 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 Splinter Cell

Splinter Cell is a video game franchise published by Ubisoft, they are stealth action adventures endorsed by Tom Clancy. The first game was a breakout hit on the original Xbox, and has led to a series of novels and several sequel games, although there has not been a new game for 9 years at this point.

The franchise revolves around Sam Fisher, and operative for a mysterious NAS organisation called Third Echelon, later Fourth Echelon, and his work to keep the United States safe from various threats.

The Story

This story sees Sam Fisher team up with a new Fourth Echelon operative, his daughter Sarah, ass they work to destroy a sinister threat to the world in the form of the Gordian Sword, a piece of cyberwarfare technology that can bypass any cyber security in existence.

But going up against them, is an old foe of Sam’s a former Soviet assassin long thought dead by Sams own hand.

Thus starts a race against time to neutralise the billionaire trying to use the technology to remake the world in his own image, and the blunt tool of his Russian relic!

Conclusion

The book is a very good, whilst Tom Clancy’s actual involvement in the Splinter Cell series, is questionable and the quality of the previous books has been middling, this one has been written very very well.

Given that this is essentially a reboot of the series, being the first installment, novel or game in nine long years, it had a lot to live up to, and I am glad to say I think it pulled it off!

James’s writing is very much in the style of Tom Clancy, and to be frank, very little of his own style shone through. It was a well researched book and felt like a love letter to the Tom Clancy books of old, the main inspiration felt to be the Rainbow Six book he wrote in 1998, but that might be because it was the last Clancyverse novel I read!

If Splinter Cell is to come back, and I really hope it does, then this is a good first step in that journey.

A solid 4 out of 4 stars.


Firewall is out now in both ePub, paperback and as an audiobook from all good booksellers!

If buying online, I recommend the below, but if you have a local indie bookstore and like the physical books, go take your custom to them!


Reign of the Devourer

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Marvel Untold novel Reign of the Devourer by David Annadale, 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 friends with David 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 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 Story

This story focuses on Doctor Victor von Doom, the ruler of the Eastern European country of Latveria, and is a sequel to last years Harrowing of Doom.

In this story Dooms desire for power and control leads him to attempt to regain knowledge that was lost on Walpurgis Night in the previous book, and with the assistance of the priest turned geomancer Zargo and surgeon Orloff, he searches for a repository of stolen memories and knowledge buried beneath Latveria.

But Maleva Krogh, a former member of Latverias ruling elite has a connection to the Devourer of memories, and is granted the power of the Urvullak, a deadly strain of Latverian vampires who steal the very soul of their victims.

Conclusion

The book is a slow burner, it takes a while to get going, but once it does the action is frantic, and epic.

It’s a very different novel to its predecessor, in that book Doom knew what was coming and was planning several steps ahead, whereas in this book, he was forced to react to the Urvullak who he was not expecting whatsoever.

In the last book you got time to know the main characters in the build up to Walpurgis Night, whereas this book takes place over a shorter timeframe, and you get less of the background. So I would say that the previous book is best read before this for maximum enjoyment.

Zargos inner turmoil is really well written, he is a man who made a choice to deny his powers and take a different path, but now has that choice taken from him. He is tortured inside and he is forced to develop his abilities further to fight the threat of the Urvullak.

Orloff gets a lot more fleshed out as Doom takes her from practising medicine to developing a new science, which is eventually weaponised as she becomes a warrior and potentially Dooms greatest tool in the fight against Krogh.

My favourite part of the book really is Krogh and the Urvullak, they are written in a way that is terrifying and horrific.

What they do is so awful, they way they rip away your soul and transform you into one of them. They feel just as much a threat on their own as they do when amassed as an army.

They are chilling and something like out of a horror film, absolutely petrifying.

This book takes a turn toward horror that I wasn’t expecting, reinforcing Annandale as a writer who is one of licensed fictions best writers of the weird and dreadful.

This book gets 4 out of 5 stars from me!


You can buy the eBook now, and the paperback is available in the US now and will be in the UK on 28th April.


The Cult of the Spider Queen

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Arkham Horror book The Cult of the Spider Queen written by S.A. Sidor, 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 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 novel sees a side character from Sidors previous Arkham Horror novel, The Last Ritual, head off an adventure to the Amazon after a silent movie star turned documentary director who has been missing for a year.

It starts off with the reporter receiving a mysterious film reel in the mail, with a simple note: “Maude Brion is very much alive!”, and sets him off on a journey of deception to fund an expedition to the Amazon in search of the missing starlet, gold, and the mysterious Spider Queen.

As the group he puts together makes their way up the Amazon river, nightmares start to become real and they begin to realise that this is a journey that they might never come back from.

Conclusion

Oh wow, where do I start, this book is thus far the best of Aconytes Arkham Horror offerings, despite mostly not being set in Arkham at all.

The setting is just dripping with little details that really blend the Lovecraftian Horror and the Jazz Age together in such a way that its almost impossible not to visualise it in your mind.

For example, Iris just excludes glamour and sophistication, even with her descent into madness, I imagine a Gal Gadot type of appearance for her, and Ursula is a kickarse gal who won’t be confined by the gender norms of the era.

The description of the monsters and horrors brought forth by the fools tampering with the passages between worlds, make your skin crawl and this novel see the introduction of more Cthulhu mythos aspects than any of the other novels thus far, with the Men of Leng playing an interesting role.

The writing style is wonderful, descriptive and flowing, and manages to blend the styles of Lovecraft, 1920s pulp novels and modern storytelling.

The atmosphere that’s built up plays off fantastically and whilst the conclusion feels deflated (because the characters are, not the story itself, but that connection to them is very real), it leaves open the door for other stories exploring some of the characters.

Aconyte have really hit the ground running and I have been reviewing their books since they started, I am a little behind, but their stuff now makes up the majority of my reading, and this takes the quality level up again.

5 out of 5 stars, no question


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.


You can buy the eBook now and the paperback gets a release on the 17th March


The Rebels of Vanaheim

I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Legends of Asgard book The Rebels of Vanaheim 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 Heimdall and Uschi, a captain of the Valkyries that we met in Richards previous book, The Head of Mirmir, and they are going on a lovely holiday to their home realm of Vanaheim, a sister realm of Asgard run by god of the harvest Frey.

But in amongst some family drama, they come up against a curse of shape shifting draugr. But when a family member falls under the curse, there is a race against time to deal with the zombie menace, but the crisis of the undead is just one aspect of a greater conspiracy.

The story is frankly, excellent, and the best thing is, that if it didn’t have Marvel on the cover, you could have easily thought that this was a fantasy novel set in the world of the Nordic gods.

There is a mystery running throughout the story linked to the miraculous draugr rune swords provided to the Vanir from the forges of the dwarves.

Conclusion

Like his last book, this is presented as a fable told to a young girl to help her navigate a life problem, which I think is really good as it helps set it up as a tale from Asgards past.

Its a highly enjoyable read, I devoured it in two sittings and just really loved the story, as I said, its strength is how much it draws on Norse myths and swirls it round with the existing Marvel lore.

In the hands of a less skilled author, it could be meh, but Richard has taken this and turned it into a fantastic tale that I just could not put down.

5 out of 5 stars!


You can buy the eBook now and the paperback gets a release on the 17th March


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.


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