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The Book of Deacon – Joseph R. Lallo

And it’s onto the fifth book of this enthralling series.

Also available in ‘The Book of Deacon Anthology’ and ‘Quest’

Review to follow.

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The Rules of the Game – Joseph Lallo

Currently the fourth story in the ‘The Book of Deacon’ series.

When i first read ‘The Book of Deacon’ several years ago, this short story wasn’t available and the difference is very noticeable when you go straight into ‘The Book of Deacon’ from this short: it’s a much better beginning.   So, IMHO, a must read for anyone before starting ‘The Book of Deacon’.

As with ‘The Rise of the Red Shadow’ this story also tells us of one of the ‘Chosen’ prior to the events in the main story.   It also does dragons really well, and any book that does dragons really well is a great book.   We liked this one very much.

There are two ways i know to get a copy, one is to sign up to Joseph’s newsletter and you’ll get it for free, the other is by buying the ‘Lone Wolf Anthology’.

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Entwell Origins: Ayna – Joseph R. Lallo

A little novella about a fairy named Ayna set in ‘The Book of Deacon’ series.

It covers a few aspects of Entwell that aren’t dealt with in the main story: like how fairies are captured and used as compasses to guide people through ‘The Cave of the Beast’.   Mostly, it does this through a young fairy named Ayna who has different ideas on what a fairy should aspire to once they reach Entwell.

I read the copy in ‘The Book of Deacon Anthology’ and while it’s a nice little story i felt this had a few too many typos which become detracting at times.   Maybe someone needs to go back and correct all these little annoying errors and put out an update.   But, for now, it’s still worth a read to add a bit more to ones knowledge of Entwell and its inhabitants.

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Seeking the Shadow – Joseph R. Lallo

This little short follows on directly after ‘The Rise of the Red Shadow’.   Someone is hunting Lain — again — and is closing in rapidly.

A really good little short.   Not really necessary to enjoy the main series, but absolutely essential if you enjoy the main series.

Joseph’s Page

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The Rise of the Red Shadow – Joseph R. Lallo

At the time of writing this is the very first book in the ‘Book of Deacon’ series, and what a book.

Essentially, it’s just an introduction to one of the series’ main characters, Lain, aka, The Red Shadow.

Lain is a kind of human/fox hybrid creature known as a Malthrope: which is where all his problems begin.   Malthropes are feared, hated, despised, distrusted and hunted to near extinction by almost everyone, and it’s only by pure chance that Lain is not killed when he is captured as a kit after his mother is killed.   But it’s a chance with a slight problem: he’s being kept alive as a slave until he’s big enough for his tail to reach to the required length for his owner to claim the bounty on it.   And if that’s not enough, as a slave he is forced to work with the other slaves who all hate, distrust and despise him and are more than eager to let him know — apart from one old blind slave who seems to have different ideas about him.

Although this is only an introduction to Lain, it’s over 400 pages long and is a complete story in its own right; so if all you want is a taster for the rest of the series, it’s a great book to taste.

Action packed, lots of other great characters coming in and out of the story, twists and turns, engrossing, enjoyable.   Lain is a character you really want to root for.

This book can also be found in ‘The Book of Deacon Anthology’.

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Indra Station – Joseph R. Lallo

Another long awaited book in the ‘Big Sigma’ series has been read and finished.   I say ‘long awaited’ like it’s been years since i read book 4 when it’s only been a few months, but a few months feels like a few years because i love this series so much.

Did it match the expectations?   Now that’s the question with this book.

From the very beginning of Big Sigma the whole series has been a whole lot of fun, and i’ve always felt that Joseph was having a lot of fun writing it, and that’s what i’ve come to expect.   But this book is different.   It’s still a good, enjoyable and engaging read, but it’s just not the fun filled ‘Big Sigma’ that we’re used to, and i think it’s for a good reason.   Sometimes in a big story like this there has to come a moment or two of important decisions for one of our favourite likeable/loveable characters where things that have been simmering away for too long are now getting overcooked and need eating.   So Lex books the best, most expensive and exclusive restaurant on Operlo for dinner with Michella and the chaos and shenanigans begin: pushing the boundaries of what’s believable and what’s ridiculous but never quite crossing them, while at the same time giving us really wonderful characters to enjoy that are so good you kind of widen those boundaries just because.   And that’s what makes this such a great series of books: a writer that is not only willing to push your boundaries to make such exciting and enjoyable stories but is also able to give you such great characters that you’re willing to widen your boundaries as well.

And that ending!   Joseph got called a few choice words last night when i finished this book.   As Nick Patel would say… ‘Not many writers have the ‘fortitude’ to end a book like that.’

And that brings me back full circle.   It’s the ending that makes sense of this book, what it’s all been buiding up to and why it doesn’t have that usual Big Sigma vibe to it.

And it certainly leaves one wondering just where this story is going to go from here.   I, for one, can’t wait to find out and i’m certainly left looking forward eagerly to book 6?   Ooooh yeah!

And as soon as i finished this i engaged the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive’ in ‘The Pile’ and it chose ‘The Crescents’, which means that i now have to read the whole of ‘The Book of Deacon series’.   You see, even the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive’ really likes Joseph’s books — can’t get a better recommendation than that.

Joseph’s Page

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One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I’ve started to read this book 3 times before and never made it through the first 20 pages.   This time i got over 1/3 of the way through it, and that was more than enough to call it a day.   So read this review with that in mind.

This book is the literary equivalent of a crap TV soap opera.   The characters are mostly inbred and somewhat retarded.   There are too many characters, most of which either have the same name or very similar names.   And just when you thought there was more than enough of one name a whole bunch of illegitimate children would turn up and Gabriel would give them all the same name of the father.   It’s like grandson named after son named after father named after great uncle named after grandfather.   And this goes on and on until you aren’t quite sure who you’re reading about.   Adding to the too many characters with the same name, there are also too many characters with similar names.   Then you get time shifts, where suddenly you’re reading something that happened to a ‘name’ (because you can never be sure which character that name is) previously and then it’s back to present then off to the future and then it’s now again but you don’t get any structure to it, and it’s just utter chaos.

On top of all that chaos, they’re all related somehow because incest seems to be a perfectly normal thing amongst these backward, inbred people.   And every few pages a new child is thrown into the mix named after someone already in the story who is then adopted and raised by someone other than its parents.   And the incest and adoption is so confusing that you’re never quite sure who is related to who in what way, thus leading to more incest, adoption and confusion.

Oh, sure, i could have done due diligence and made a big effort to work out who exactly is who when a name appears, but i shouldn’t have to.   I don’t read books to make tedious and pointless work for myself.   I read books to enjoy the escape from tedium, for fun and recreation, to enjoy the experience of losing myself.

You can never lose yourself in this book if you want to understand what is going on because you’re always having to work at who is who and how they’re related to each other in what generation, etc., etc..

Then there’s the liberal use of Deus Ex Machina.   Create a problem, that of everyone losing their memories, and then solve it when someone turns up with a magical potion and everything’s suddenly ok again.   And what was the point of it all and where have we got with the actual story?

And that’s the question: what is the actual story here?   All i get is a never ending cacophony of incest, illegitimate children, adoption of each other’s illegitimate children, giving them names of already existing characters into the maelstrom of same and similar named characters that already exist, and stupid behaviour with ever more and more characters from other places being thrown in, even when completely unnecessary.

How this book is classed as a paragon of Spanish literature is beyond me.   I suppose it’s the same crowd that think Shakespeare and Dickens are paragons of English literature.   And guess what?   You won’t ever find any Shakespeare or Dickens on this website.

It’s not that i can’t handle lots of characters: i’ve read the Riftwar saga by Raymond E. Feist and similar great sagas of fantasy and sci-fi, and i’ve never been confused.   Why?   Because they give them all distinctive names.

It’s not that i have a problem with non English names: i’ve read lots of fantasy, sci-fi and also translated books by lots of non English writers, never been a problem.   Why?   Because they give them all distinctive names.

I can only think that this was done on purpose to make some literary point, but this literary point is completely lost on me.   Why create utter chaos within your character structure, add too many characters even when completely unnecessary to the story, give the characters same or similar names to add more confusion, throw never ending incest and inbreeding into the mix and then get them to adopt each other’s children and then don’t tell the children who their parents are so you can look forward to more incest?   The point certainly isn’t made in the first 1/3rd of the book and if a writer can’t be bothered to hook me into a story in that time then the book goes in the delete bin.

The other issue with all this character chaos is that you never can bond with any of the characters.

I like a book that gives me some central characters who i can bond with, root for and believe in.   Characters that i can identify, who stand out and make sense of the story for me.   I like a book that simply loses me in the story.   When i read a book the only part of me that has to do anything is my thumb, turning the pages on my Kindle: i don’t want to be having to stop and think about what’s happening, the story should flow and make sense of itself without my having to make a load of effort to make it make sense.   And i don’t like soap operas and those kind of pathetic characters, repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again and never learning anything.   If i want a soap opera i could watch television.   I don’t watch television!   I read books!

My final pronouncement on this book is that it is a work for voyeurs with a niche fetish of viewing incest who enjoy crappy TV soap operas who are happy with Deus Ex Machina being deployed to solve every problem that served no literary purpose other than to deploy the Deus Ex Machina in the first place.

Utterly ridiculous!

Gabriel’s Page

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Woken Furies — Richard Morgan

And so, after the fantastic, ‘Altered Carbon’, followed up by the enthralling, but not quite as good, ‘Broken Angels’, i had decided not to expect anything from this book other than a couple more incredible sex scenes like the first two books had.

And i was still left utterly disappointed.

The sex scenes in this book are like Richard just couldn’t be bothered.   The incredible, imaginative stuff of the first two books had gone and in its place was just crude basic crap with the word ‘cunt’ used far too often like Richard was a 4 year old who just learned a naughty word and is trying to impress all his friends with it.   Really, that’s what it was like.   It’s like someone else wrote half of this book.

It’s not like the great ideas and a good story that were in the first two books weren’t there any more, they were, and that aspect of it was just as good and just as enthralling.   It’s just the telling of it and the writing of it felt totally different.

I felt a bit of this in book two, compared to book one, and this third book continues the downward trajectory.

Did the editor get changed?   Because whoever edited this book needs sacking.   You really have to stop and pause while you work through conversations trying to decide if someone’s thinking or speaking or whatever because the punctuation is completely missing.

Too many faults in a really good story.   What could have been an amazing book is left to be bearable to read once and i can’t ever see myself reading this trilogy ever again.

Richard’s Page

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Broken Angels — Richard Morgan

After the fantastic, ‘Altered Carbon’, it was straight into this, the second book in the trilogy.   And after ‘Altered Carbon’ i had exceptionally high hopes for this book, which, admittedly, one should maybe not do, but one can but hope.   Did it meet the expectations?

Not quite.

But i certainly wasn’t disappointed.   Like ‘Altered Carbon’, it kept me turning the pages, but whereas ‘Altered Carbon’ is set on Earth, ‘Broken Angels’ is set on a planet far, far away.   And it’s that one single difference that, for me at least, lets this book down a tiny, tiny bit.   I just didn’t feel involved any more, because it’s so far out from the world as i know it that it doesn’t capture me like a book set on Earth does.

Normally one doesn’t notice these things.   Usually a sci-fi trilogy is set solely on other planets in a different time with lots of the same characters re-appearing, and it all just flows nicely and feels complete within itself.   But this jump from a story based mostly on Earth, with towns and places that we can all relate to, to being based completely on another planet, far, far away, with only one common character, is like reading something that’s not a trilogy any more.

Having said that though, it’s still a good book.   But it’s just not the flowing trilogy that i had hoped for and expected from the first book.   As the saying goes… ‘Expectation is the mother of all fuck ups’.

Yeah, maybe i shouldn’t have expected that, and to be fair, this book does point out that if you don’t have any expectations and then you will be ready to deal with anything.

Anyways, now i’m not expecting anything with the third book, ‘Woken Furies’, but more of Takeshi Kovacs running amok while killing lots of people, causing lots of mayhem and thinking lots of philosophical points to justify doing so along the way.   And he’s already doing that in the first 10 pages.

Although, maybe i lied.   I do expect a couple more rampant sex scenes written into this and i’ll be quite disappointed if they’re not there.   Both the first two books have had 2 very descriptive and very inventive sex scenes, so this book had better do as well.

All in all though, to sum it up, a very good read if you like lots of death, mayhem, corporate villains, with some highly descriptive sex scenes thrown in.   Oh, and i almost forgot… there’s even some Martians as well — yeah, like real Martians.

Richard’s Page

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Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan

Wow! How does one review something like this book?

To start with… It’s hard, brutal, nasty and cruel. It’s got rape, torture, snuff, hardcore literary pornography and other unpleasant stuff, even some bestiality thrown in for good measure. So if any of that kind of stuff bothers you, seriously, don’t open this book. Instead, you can go and watch, what i presume will be, a tamed down version on Netflix. I say ‘presume’ because i most certainly am not going to be watching it after reading this book as i don’t want Netflix ruining it for me, plus, i’ve got plenty of really good books to read instead. After reading this book, i’m very content with the impression the book leaves, any video hack job of this book will only diminish that contentment.

The story is in the first person narrative of our protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, who was a highly trained military asset known as an ‘Envoy’. ‘Envoy’ being quite the twisted, euphemistic description of what his military role used to be. And as an Envoy, Kovacs was trained to have no feelings towards anyone or anything. He’s essentially just a pure, flat affect machine designed to get a job done that normal military assets can’t be used for, for one reason or another. But now he no longer works for those who trained him and instead uses his training as a free lance criminal with devasting effect.

So, with that in mind, you are taken on a journey from the point of view of a weaponised, mal-adjusted, amoral, machine like mind, and at times it can become quite the uncomfortable ride.

On top of all this, the book is set in the future where human minds can be decanted into software and ‘re-sleeved’ into new bodies, either real, synthetic, semi-synthetic or virtual and as such some of the characters have been alive for over 300 years. These older characters are known as ‘meths’, short for ‘Methuselahs’ named after the longest living character in the bible. It is one of these meths that has employed Kovacs, under duress, to find out who killed him in his last ‘sleeve’. And so we go on a high octane, magical carpet ride on steroids as Kovacs takes on the worst of the future of humanity in his search to find answers.

It’s not an easy read either. As you are seeing things from the point of view of this highly trained military killing machine you have to pay the attention to the details as he is, and you do find yourself having to re-read a few pages here and there. But it’s certainly worth that extra effort in what it pays back.

All in all, to sum it up, ‘A fantastic book, but most definitely not for the faint of heart.’

I can’t wait to get into book 2 of this series, ‘Broken Angels’

Richard’s Page

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Luku Makes a Didgeridoo – Kyle Maplesden

A nice view into how a traditional didgeridoo is made and crafted, explained in language that i would probably reckon about 7 years upward.   But as a Kindle has it’s own look up dictionary it’s always a good thing to push a few new words — like “pigment” — onto young minds.

Illustrated throughout with some lovely pictures which unfortunately don’t get full justice on the black and white Kindle screen.

Nice first book, Kyle.

Kyle’s Page

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