D.M. Murray
D.M. Murray

D.M. Murray

Covenant of Blood (Book One of the Thayria Cycle) by H.R. van Adel 30, Sep

I’m a sucker of military fantasy. So when I saw the cover art for Covenant of Blood, I knew the kind of book I was in for. There is not an awful lot of pretence  about this book; it is what it is, a large-scale plot, several key character arcs, bloody battles, magic, camaraderie and most other ingredients of the genre. Oh, and lots of the red stuff.

 The prologue of this book set things up really well for me in that the relationship between the soldiers was sharp in dialogue and largely well written, with humour, tension and intrigue. What felt out of step a little was the language use. Now, I’m not one to blush at profanity in books, indeed, the use of profanity in the dialogue provided some amusing moments. However, the dialogue felt too contemporary for the setting of this book. 

 The world appears to be analogous to the Roman Empire, with the main characters each taking up space in a sprawling plot that ultimately treats us to a fair amount of battle, intrigue and supernatural goings on.

 Whilst I ultimately enjoyed this book, the language employed in dialogue and narrative felt a bit jarring. That said, there were times when it worked well, particularly through Goraric’s arc. I found the portrayal of female characters to be an issue, with them largely being sexualised objects. In particular, how they were described both in narrative and dialogue didn’t work for me. At one point  early on the narrator describes a character as ‘having tits enough for three women’. That left me scratching my head for a moment as I tried to work that one out. I settled on the character having six breasts.

 The plot is sprawling, and whilst there are moments of genuine breathlessness through excellent battle scenes, equally there are ponderous moments that bog the flow down somewhat. 

 This book is one for fans of military fantasy, who aren’t turned off by the more graphic books.


Sorrowfish (The Call of the Lorica Book 1) by Anne C. Miles - Book Review 30, Sep

As a Marine Biologist I was totally up for a book about a sad fish. Whilst I was not treated to a journey through the POV of big mopey fish, I was treated to something altogether more enjoyable. FYI, the Sorrowfish referred to in the title is in fact the name given to Sara (the main character’s) signet.

 I think it is fair to say, that whilst this was not my pick of my allotted books to go forward, Miles has created a unique and rich tapestry. Sorrowfish would not be the typical style of fantasy I would seek out, however this book does deserve respect for the interesting and creative world that we as readers get to play in for a while.

 The start of the book was slow, as many are, and whilst this did mean it took a while for me to ‘get in to it’, the story offered rich reward in the end, picking up pace and finishing with a crescendo. Quite fitting, really, seeing as the book is ultimately about a life-giving song...

 On the whole, I feel that Canard is a really creatively developed dream world, with some really enjoyable mythological elements woven through the fabric of the story. We are treated to fae, gnomes, gargoyles, chimera, and a magical life-giving tree, which reminded me somewhat of the Tree of Souls from Avatar.

 As a whole, I enjoyed Sorrowfish, and feel that the book offers a lot to readers who are looking for a more creative fantasy that doesn’t employ an axe to the face. The somewhat boggy start to the book was a challenge, and ultimately the reason why Sorrowfish was not my pick, however it is still an excellent piece of work, and one that Miles should rightly be proud of. 

Dire (Feathers and Flames Book One) by John Bailey - Book Review 30, Sep

I’ll be honest, this one was not for me. It may very well be exactly what you are looking for, in which case,  I’m sure you’ll find it lots of fun. It’s not that I have anything against Gryphons, to be fair, I tend to find any books where the main point of view character is an animal a bit disengaging. I guess it’s the anthropomorphic behaviours that I just don’t buy in to. I guess that one is on me, not the author. 

 Setting aside my prejudice at viewing the world through the eyes of a Gryphon, I found the level of writing and general editing of this book to be a bit off the pace compared to some of my other allotted books.

 Plot-wise, it was all just a bit on the sparse side, with the main character Euraiya’s development taking the stage for the majority of what is a fairly short book. On the whole I felt that this book would’ve worked better as an interesting backstory to the main event, which I’m guessing Bailey has planned out and is in the works. Perhaps the story would work better if it was injected at the end of the series, as a brief prequel, or as bait to entice a potential reader to pick up the series.

 My overall feeling is that this book was simply a little too niche for me, and may appeal a bit more to those who enjoy stories through the eyes of great, fantastical creatures. I’m sorry to say, it just did not have enough quality in the characters, the depth of plot, or the overall execution for me to really enjoy the story.