reviews
Charles' Reviews

Charles' Reviews (96)

Steel, Blood, and Fire (Immortal Treachery #1)
10, Aug

4.5/5

Anyone who knows me will tell you how I like my fantasy: black, gritty, and without apology. There's nothing wrong with bright and optimistic fantasy but I like it when the protagonists are bastards, the villains are monsters, and the world is not going to become a better place once the final blow is struck. It's a subgenre ("grimdark") which, despite Game of Thrones' success, which is best exemplified by indie fantasy artists like Rob J. Hayes, M.L. Spencer, Richard Nell, Michael Baker, and Michael R. Fletcher. Now Allan Batchelder.

Hemlock (The Manhunters #2)
05, Aug

4/5

HEMLOCK is the sequel to Jesse Teller's SONG, which is the first volume of the Manhunters series. The premise of the series is Rayph Ivoryfist is a Gandalf-style wizard who used to be the protector of his kingdom as well as the imprisoner of innumerable supernatural baddies in a magical prison. However, things go South when the king turns upon him and a mass breakout is staged which unleashes them all onto the world once more. It's a combination of fantasy and comic book supervillain plot.

Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4)
03, Aug

4.5/5

CIBOLA BURN is the fourth novel of the Expanse series which I've very much enjoyed even if I've stated my preference for the TV adaptation. The Expanse's premise is it's about two hundred years in the future and humanity has not changed a bit. The rich abuse the poor, there's racial caste systems, and governments are either greedy or oppressive (or both). The first few novels were very hard science fiction but have shifted a bit with the introduction of ancient alien technology.

Satan's Salesman
03, Aug

SATAN'S SALESMAN is a novel by Matthew Davenport set in his Broken Nights universe while also functioning as a stand-alone horror novel. The premise of the novel is a simple but effective variant on the old Faustian pact. In exchange for your immortal soul, you can have anything you desire as long as it is within the "value" of your soul (measured in points). This kind of industrialized post-Wallstreet take on the powers of Satan. In this case, it reminds me very much of the Al Pacino movie THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE which was very different from its novel.

The Thousand Scars (Counterbalance #1)
22, Jul

5/5

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm a fan of grimdark fantasy. My definition is dark and gritty fantasy where the protagonists are morally ambiguous, nobility isn't romanticized, the villains are genuinely monstrous, war is hellish, and any gods or supernatural forces are either horrifying or ambiguous themselves. By this definition, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE isn't completely grimdark because Jon Snow exists along with other purely good heroes.

Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse #3)
22, Jul

3.5/5

ABADDON'S GATE is the third volume of the Expanse and while it promises many new and interesting developments, isn't one I enjoyed as much as the previous installments. That's not to say the novel isn't good but it has some flaws which made me think this series might be running out of steam. I hope I'm going to be proven wrong but the only way I can do that is to pick up the next volume.

The Blighted City (The Fractured Tapestry #1)
17, Jul

4/5

BLIGHTED CITY is a fantasy which involves a juxtaposition of two things which you normally don't see much of: a biohazard horror setting and a fantasy world. Basically, it's a series which could best be described as THE LAST OF US, THE SHADOWS OF INNSMOUTH, meets your typical DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS dragon crawl. Even then, it's not a very good description and you could draw parallels to many other works.

Caliban's War (The Expanse #2)
16, Jul

4/5

CALIBAN'S WAR is the second installment of the Expanse series, which compromises the majority of Season Two of the series. Unlike with the first volume, I read this before watching the second season and I'm glad I did. I felt my viewing of the second season of the Expanse was enriched by my reading how the author originally intended the story to go.

Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness
15, Jul

4/5

I'm a big fan of Matthew Davenport's Cthulhu Mythos novels. I really enjoyed THE TRIAL OF OBED MARSH and thought THE STATEMENT OF ANDREW DORAN was a lot of fun. However, I was interested in where the story could go after the events of the first novel. It's not often an author combines Indiana Jones, the Cthulhu Mythos, and Titus Crow. Where do you go from there? Well, nicely, the answer is Antarctica to prevent the Nazis and some nasty cultists from raising an army of shoggoths to destroy everything.

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
14, Jul

5/5

Let it never be said that adaptations don't lead you to the source material. I was led to LEVIATHAN WAKES by the Expanse television series on the Syfy channel (soon to be Amazon.com) and, thus, had a bit of difficulty starting on because I knew the story of the first book but was interested in how the story sometimes zigged instead of zagged. It made me want to read the rest of the series before I watched the next season.