Charles' Reviews

Charles' Reviews (149)

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


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


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


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


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


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


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 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.

Into the Dark (Alexis Carew #1)
09, Jul


INTO THE DARK by J.A. Sutherland is the first novel of the steampunk science fiction novel series ALEXIS CAREW, which follows the adventures of the titular plucky midshipwoman. If I had to describe this one, I would have to say it's about halfway between Disney's Treasure Planet and the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It is a world where starships travel the void between worlds using ropes, cannon, and sails as a new British Empire feuds with dozens of other Age of Sail powers.

Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves #1)
08, Jul


CHILD OF THE NIGHT GUILD is the first novel in the Night Guild series by Andy Peloquin. It deals with a concept I've always loved in fantasy: the Thieves Guild. Before the mafia existed, the concept of an organized criminal underworld in Medieval times. Created in fantasy by Fitz Leiber, the Thieves Guild has been a mainstay of fantasy settings influenced by it like Dungeons and Dragons or Skyrim.

Brutal: An Epic Grimdark Fantasy (The Brutal Trilogy #1)
06, Jul


BRUTAL: AN EPIC GRIMDARK FANTASY by James Alderice is an homage to the classic Western A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, 1920s gangster movie LAST MAN STANDING, and samurai story YOJIMBO. The premise for it is a remarkably flexible one. Basically, a lone warrior goes into a town which is controlled by two rival gangs. Playing the two against one another, he attempts to make a fortune but things quickly spiral out of control.