Saturday, February 4, 2017
Author: C.T. Phipps
Publisher: Ragnarok Publishing/ Audible Studios
Release Date: 11/1/2016 (Print)/ 1/18/2017 (Audible)
Length: 322 pages/ 12 hrs and 2 min. Audible
Audio narrated by Kevin T. Collins
Jacob Riverson is Knight Paramount of the Shadow Guard, The Southern Kingdoms guardians against The King Below and his forces of evil. After killing Kurzad, one of the four Dark Lords (think super powered Ring Wraiths) in combat, Jacob faces the King Below, the trixter God of Evil, in the final battle of the fourth age. The King below kills him by running him through. 250 years later, he becomes aware again, standing on a mountain top, facing the trixter god in his non battle guise. Jacob is told by the God that he is a wraith and that he replaced the last Kurzad as his Dark servant, and has been a dark force of evil fighting for the King Below against the forces of light. As they speak, two dragons come flying up, with knights riding them, fighting each other. As the smaller dragon is killed, it's rider, a female knight, calls on Jacob to help her, thinking he is a knight of the Shadow Guard. He decides to help her, and uses his powers to kill the other knights and their dragon.
Thus starts his journey with Regina, a current Shadow guard, who have fallen greatly since Jacobs time in the guard. She tells him the King Below was killed by the nine heroes, and then they usurped the rule of the Southern kingdoms. So starts a huge series of adventures and tribulations, as Jacob has to deal with the evil did as the Dark Lord, and figure how he can use that power for good. Along the way, they travel the kingdoms, fight one of the usurpers, meet Sarah, a dark powers witch who isn't evil, and go to The King Below's Kingdom, Everfrost, which is situated over the entrance to the Underworld, where Jacob decides his final fate. The final battle of the book is epic, with huge revelations about the forces behind the events of the last 250 years, about Jacobs past, and about future directions of the series.
This book has everything fans of epic, dark fantasy clamor for. Flawed characters, deeply complicated politics, falls from grace, chances at redemption. The author also has complicated interpersonal relationships, including intimate ones, along the lines of A Crown for Cold Silver. They are as natural as breathing, not something added to create a "message". Watching Jacob's voyage through this book is great, since he is such a great flawed character, having done awful things, both for good and evil reasons, and seeing him strive for redemption really endears him to the reader. His companions are also fully realized, no just cutout props. There is great magic of various sorts throughout, and a surprising amount of snark for a dark epic like this. All in all, a definite 5 star listen.
Kevin Collins narration was great, and I can't wait to check out his other work. If your looking for something to compare this to, the closest thing would be Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Author: Michael Ender
Publisher: Self Published, Available through Amazon
Release Date: January 15, 2017
Length : 33 pages
In a future where humanity has reached the stars, but is ruled by a totalitarian government, The Legions have to fight the war with their alien neighbors, a helium breathing race who are interested in the same real estate. On an explration Mission, When Star Dragon 13 and her fellow fighter ships are deployed, an enemy battleship appears out of nowhere, and their mother ship leaves and the other 12 Star Dragons are destroyed. The captain of 13, a stealth Prototype, Commits suicide per SOP, anthough he doesnt destroy the ship as he should have with his suicide by explosive. This leaves 1st officer Adrianna Archa in charge of the 4 person crew. She tags the location of the Battleship and they remain in stealth mode. What follows is a harrowing journey trying to determine what really happened, and what their mission really was. You find that Adrianna was sold to the Legion by her family, and that is not uncommon. They must make decisions that could lead to their death either way, either by enemy action or by Legion Command if they failed to understand their mission properly. The story ends with some wild action, a battle for the battleship using the unique technology of their prototype Star Dragon and heading back to the Legion for either a medal or a firing squad. The story had lots of twists in its short length, and did a good job of fleshing out the various characters. The author did an admirable job of creating a fleshed out universe in this short a story, and I hope to see a full length novel based on these characters soon, since I think it is an engaging universe that has lots more stories left in it.