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Review – Iain Banks, Transition

Hey there girls and guys, time for another review.

This week I’m bringing you my views on Iain Banks new novel, Transition.

Now I’m not that familiar with Iain’s books but this was truly a difficult read for me, great story, but not the easiest to read.

But I will get to all that in time. 🙂

Let say that not only the universe itself is infinite but alternate dimensions as well, and in everyone there is an earth.

Now what if there was a secret organisation made up of special individuals with the ability to transition from one version of earth to the other.

Put this together, add some conspiracy, a council member mad with power, a rebel, an assassin and a few odds and ends, including a mysterious patient in a psych ward, and you have the premises for a very interesting journey.


Now then, Transition. The story is very interesting and quite captivating, when u get to it.

This book was both very good and tedious at times. 🙂 😦

You have several characters throughout the story to work with, the main one being the transitionary/assassin Mr Oh. Each chapter is divided between several of the characters. Though Iain indicates to you which characters you are busy with, when dealing with Mr Oh he tends to think of previous times and when this happens you are left confused until you figure out that you are actually dealing with a memory and no part of the current story.

This does however help to give you a better understanding of where Mr Oh comes from and what happened in the past to lead to the actions as they are currently unfolding.

Mr Oh’s character in itself is also a very interesting character to follow, most likely the most so of the whole bunch. Well he is after all the main character 🙂

He is already a fully developed character so there is no real character development, instead you find yourself standing right beside him as he works at uncovering the conspiracy that has wrapped itself around the Concern, the organisation he worked for.

The second problem I found in reading this book is that you are left completely confused and in the dark for almost the first 100 pages. There is no explanation of what is going on or any indication of a story line. 😦

This is however is corrected after about 100 pages, and trust me when you find out what the storyline is and what’s really going on, shocking and speechless. Pure genius. 🙂

From there on the story progresses relatively well, despite the amount of clutter which I will get to in a minute.

Once the storyline has been revealed, it starts to flow in a more understandable pattern, events start to make sense, and you can really start to live yourself into the story.

The final problem I had with the story was the amount of distracting information. There would be entire pages discussing theoretical, ethical, and academic concepts. On their own they are truly interesting and worth a read, but placed into the story as they are they form more of a distraction and thus resulting in a very heavy/difficult read. At times I would find myself skipping over pages just to get past all of this information. 😦

Despite all this distracting information you still find a very well written story filled with intrigue, corruption, action, romance and of course the supernatural. 🙂

Iain Banks is a great writer and this is a spectacular story, but due to the fact that I had such difficulty getting through it, it will not be making its way onto my best book list.

If you want to find out more about Iain Banks and his books then you can find his official website here.

Or if you would like to buy the book, it is currently fresh off the presses and should be available in most book stores, as for online our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here, and US readers can find it here.

Enjoy your reading!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 2, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Aspiring Writers.

Hey guys and girls, I recently found a very interesting site run by an American Author, Brian Moreland.

Brian Moreland is already an accomplished writer with his second book coming out soon. Apart from being an author he also keeps himself busy by coaching aspiring writers.

He runs a blog site called Coaching for Writers which has many useful articles for any aspiring writer.

If you’re an aspiring writer you should definitely check out this site, simply click here.

He also recently appeared on the blog site Stimulating Conversation, as a guest writer, writing an article on Descriptive Writing. You can find this article here.

Also keep an eye out as i will be trying to bring you not one but three reviews in the next two weeks. 😮

First of all will be the brand new Iain Banks book, Transitions.

Well thats me singing out for now.

Be Good 😉

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Review – The Red Stone, Craig Smith

Review done by David Jooste

Hey there guys and girls, I’m back yet again with a new review for your reading pleasure. 🙂

This week I have a bit of an older book for you, The Red Stone by Craig Smit (2007). I met Craig on line a few months ago and after we chatted a bit he asked if I would do a review for his fantasy novel The Red Stone, and the book lover that I am said yes, naturally :-).

Well here it is.

One night a young tavern boy is given a strange glowing red stone by a talking black crow, and before he could figure out what to do his life is thrown upside down. Plunged into a world of magic, monsters, knights and Kings, he must learn not only to use his own discovered magic but how to become the hero of two Kingdoms.

In the mean time the dark Count Ergol is amassing his horde of monsters and marching on the idyllic Kingdom of Elfwood, the first stop on his road to becoming Ruler of the all the Kingdoms.

Ok so this is basically an Epic/Heroic Fantasy, I have not read one in a long time, so this brought back a few fond memories from books that I use to read while still in school. I would say its most likely aiming for the same market as it is not a very intense story.

It’s simple, quirky and fun to read and I definitely enjoyed reading it. 🙂

The storyline is very simple, nothing to complex or confusing. Two armies joining forces to fight of the evil invaders and along the way new friends and allies are made.

A lowly peasant boy finds out that he is meant for more and discovers that he has great power just waiting to be released.

The flow is also very constant, moving from one place or incident to the next with ease and without cluttering the story with too much additional information. This does however lead to a bit of a down side for me :-(, in a sense the characters know too much. As soon as a mystery pops up or something strange happens, a character explains it, although it is not annoying it does rob the story of a sense of mystery. 

There is a wide assortment of characters in this book, from humans, giants, trolls, dragons, goblins, wizards and warlocks to some more creative alternatives.

My personal favorite was Berrinn, a bronze dragon that befriended Tennen, a wise and rather sly dragon to say the least :-).

The evil Count Errgol was definitely a bit of a comic relief, deviating from the usual dark and deceiving warlord that we usually find in such books. The Count is more of a spoiled noble with grandiose plans and tantrums when he does not get what he wants. 🙂

Our main character is the young Tennen. Starting out as a simple tavern cleaner, his journey takes him to all kinds of places, introducing him to many new people and friends, and bringing about his destiny as the keeper of the mystical red stone, not to mention the cool armor and sword he finds later on.

There is not a big change in him but you do see him become more enthusiastic about the new role he plays. You also find him becoming more daring, adventurous and heroic as the story progresses.

There is also his teacher Rimotar, a powerful wizard from the Kingdome of Melin. Rimotar both instructs the young Tennen about his new destiny as well as teaches him how to use his new powers as a young wizard.

There are many more interesting characters to talk about but I will leave them for you to discover. 🙂

There was also a small downside in the way the book was written. For younger readers and people new to fantasy this might not be apparent, but to those who are more use to reading such novels they will find that often comments, actions or gestures are accompanied with an explanation, something that in my opinion could have been left out as it was self explanatory in the first place.

All in all this was still a fun diversion from the norm for me. And there is a new book on the way, which I will definitely also read. 🙂

So if you’re up for a quick read or just simply want to escape into a fantasy realm for a quick bit this book will definitely work for you. It’s easy to read, has a quick storyline, and leaves you having a fun time.

I would give this book a 6.5/10 (7 if you ignore the downsides)

Way to go Craig can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

If you would like to buy the book our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here, and US readers can find it here.

Have a great day everyone!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 10, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Review – Marked, P.C. & Kristin Cast

By David Jooste

Hey guys and girls, especially the girls this week, and some guys I guess. 🙂

This week a bring you a review of Marked, the first book in the House of Night series.

Zoey Redbird is just you normal everyday teenage girl, till the day she gets marked as a soon to be vampire.

Zoey’s world is turned upside down as she is thrust into this new world hidden in the depths of the night. A normal school with teachers and classes, everything you would expect from school, even the cute boy and the school b*. Then of course there is the fact that classes run from 8pm till 3am and everyone’s vampires.

Behind all this is still a deeper mystery, why was Zoey chosen by the Vampire Goddess Nyx as here vessel, why was she given such powerful abilities , why is she nearly a fully developed vampire when it usually takes four years to turn completely

But the biggest mystery of all, what is really going on at the House of Night?

Well there you have a summary of the story. 🙂

From the start you can see that this book is aimed at the young female market, and I’m sure they will love it. From the terminology used, issues the characters are faced with, down to the finest detail. Girls will love it and immediately find themselves relating to the characters.

It is definitely well written towards its intended market. Well done. 🙂

The best I have seen it described, and i thought so myself was Harry Potter + Twilight = Marked. And that is exactly what you get at the basis, still the story is so much more than that.

The storyline is not too complicated and it has a nice smooth flow. For first time readers it will be a joy and for the rest it will still offer an interesting experience.

Now I’m a huge vampire fan; Stephenie Meyer, Ann Rice, love them all. In House of Night however vampire takes on a whole new existence.

No makers or sires, you are simply destined to become one.

However there is still the little problem of hoping your body accepts the 4 year long transformation you go through at the school, if not sorry you die. 😮

Still the authors made it work for them in this setting, good on you.:-)

Personally I was not that impressed at the start but it eventually grew on me till I could not put it down, was even a little upset when the book ended so quickly.

Still it has a great ending and it leaves a nice bit of mystery open for the next installment, Betrayed.

The characters are also loveable, from our lead Zoey, to her best friends Stevie Rae, the Twins and Damien. Even the antagonist Aphrodite, is perfect in here role.

Zoey goes thorough some major changes in her life; a new school, a new state of being, her gifts, and the role that she discovers she needs to play.

Through this first book you see how she develops from here insecurities to the self confident person she becomes towards the end of the book. You also find her discovering her place at the House of Night and finally fitting in and belonging somewhere.

Over all this is a great book for the younger readers as they find the characters in situations similar to the ones they themselves might face daily. It develops into a smooth flowing storyline and the characters do grow on you.

More mature reader however might not find it as enticing. It does after all deal with mainly teenage girl type issues.

7/10

Now for a further tit-bit of new on the House of Night series, after making sure, it seams that House of Night will also be turned into a series of movies :-), stating with Marked. The first one, as far as i could find out, is set for release in 2011.

If you want to find out more about House of Night then you can find the offical website for the series here, and it’s definately worth the look.
Or if you would like to buy the book our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here, and US readers can find it here.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Review – Sheri S. Tepper – The Margarets

Review done by David Jooste

 Hey there guys and girls, I’m back with yet another great review for you. 😉

This last few weeks I had my nose firmly planted between the pages of Sheri’s book, and what a read this was.

When I first saw it as being a mix of fantasy and sci-fi I was a bit sceptical but I was soon proven wrong.

 

The Margarets Cover

The Margarets Cover

What if you lived 7 lives at the same time, on seven different planets? A Queen, a Warrior, Healer, Shaman, Grandmother, Slave and Spy. All different people but also the same woman. The earth and all human life has reached its limit and surpassed it. Destruction or salvation rests in the hands of one woman who walks seven paths. There are those who seek her to fulfil a prophecy centuries in waiting, and there are those who would stop at nothing to ensure she fails :-o.

 Well that’s basically what I can tell you, the story line is far too complex and intricate to summarize.

 I have to say. “I love this book” 🙂

This was really a great read and I could not put the book down at all. The plot, storyline, characters, and effort placed into this book is truly amazing, but we will get to each aspect in time. 🙂

The book basically revolves around Margaret and follows here throughout her life at various ages points. These  mainly focus on the points were she splits into her other selves.

Splits into her other selves? 😮

Well yes, without know it she gets duplicated several times at key decision points, such as staying with her lover or leaving him, getting aboard an alien space ship or not. Each of these splits takes the new Margaret into a different life with different adventures.

The plot and storyline is very well developed around this.

The reason for all the happenings are not apparent through the book but if you pay attention to the small stories and legends you start to get a feel for what’s going on. The final plot is not fully revealed till the end of the book which is good, especially when you get that feeling of “yes, I was on the right track” :-).

One of the things I loved about the story was the attention to detail when it came to planning amongst the characters. Sheri created an amazing plan for the resurrection of the earth from the dilapidated state that it is in, one that obviously took a great deal of thought. Way to go Sheri! 😉

The flow of the story is also very comfortable, a bit disorienting when you jump to the next time frame in the lives of the Margaret’s, and could have been supported by a better indication that you are now dealing with a new phase. But over all the flow of the story is very comfortable, neither to fast nor to slow, allowing the plans of the various groups to unfold and ripen at a steady pace and not rushing into things.

At the end of the book when all the Margaret’s meet up once more, the storylines also knit together rather easily, no complicated tactics or overdone stories had to be written to accommodate it. This helped to ease the story into its final phase and bring everything to a close. 🙂

As for the characters, well there is a large assortment of them and you can get a bit lost among the variety but you quickly pick up on who is who and where you are.

Still they are all loveable and contribute to the story as a whole very effectively, each playing their role in helping whichever Margaret they are with.

The biggest problem for me came with the Margaret’s themselves; yes their names change a bit and each chapter starts with the name and planet of the one you deal with, bit it’s still confusing at the start of each chapter, especial since its written in the first person. Luckily the accompanying surrounding and characters helps you to quickly orient yourself as to where you are.

All in all Sheri created a great story that I would love to read again :-). The characters are wonderful with a captivating plot and a storyline that makes you think, are we on a similar road and would our earth end up such a waist dump as this one in a hundred years? Would we have to resort to selling our people as slaves to alien civilizations in return for clean drinking water? 😮

In this book Sheri has given us a superb melding of Fantasy and Science-Fiction 🙂

The elements of both melding together perfectly.

I know I definitely want to take a look at some of her other book as well now.

For this one I have to say 8/10 (great characters, unique idea and good planning went into this book though it did get a bit confusing at times)

if you would like to buy this great book  our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here, and US readers can find it here.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Kit Whitfield – In Great Waters Book Review

Review done by David Jooste

Well guys and girls I’m back with another review for our fantasy fans. This time round I had my hand on Kit’s new book, In Great Waters, an alternative history/fantasy novel.

Cover

Cover

What if Mermaids really existed, but not your Disney-fairytale all smiles type, instead they are powerful tribal creatures that are very territorial and did not take kindly to humans invading the ocean.

The rule of the Deepsman started with the fall of the young city of Venice, overthrown and at the mercy of a Deepswoman named Angelica, the city of Venice crowned her queen. As time passed the royal bloodline found seats of power on all the thrones of Europe.

Now centuries have passed and the bloodline is too contaminated to breed healthy children.

A young princess with no right to the thrown is fighting with all here might to ensure the safety of England and prevent it from falling back into the hands of a Landsman or the French.

A bastard is found washed up on the shore, hidden away and raised with the promise of the English thrown.

Well there you have a bit of a teaser for the book, but let’s take a deeper look into the story.

As I said at the start, this is an alternative history novel, with the main change coming about when the Deepsman invade Venice during its younger years. Landsman-Deepsman half breeds then went forth to establish control over Europe and no Landsman could have a nave unless they had a treaty with these Deepsman. Bu centuries of inbreeding has lead to a bloodline that can no longer be sustained and since it is against the law for a Landsman and a Deepsman to have a child there is no new blood to be brought in.

The Tudor style setting that Kim creates functions perfectly for this novel, along with the intrigue created for the royal court.

The story itself is also filled with everything you would expect from a novel set in this time period; poisonings, attempts to overthrow the thrown, struggles of a queen to keep her thrown and an outcast trying to learn his way in a world that is the complete opposite of his own.

And as can be expected the Church also plays a prominent role in the story, and even invokes an interesting question towards the end.

Kit definitely placed a lot of thought and effort into the setting of the story and making it as believable as possible.

The characters you meet throughout the story are also very well crafted,  from princess Ann to the bastard Henry.

As the story progresses you see a young princess Ann grow from wanting nothing more than her mother’s admiration to becoming a queen who would do anything in her power to protect her kingdom. The character of Ann especially was perfectly crafted in my opinion, from the wisdom she has to the role she plays throughout.

Henry on the other hand should be approached in a completely different way, his character was also written especially well. Creating a character with views that are supposed to be completely different from what a normal humans view point should be could not have been easy. For Henry the approach was more in line with learning to deal with aspects such as stories, history, language, objects and many more such mundane things that are everyday to use.

As with the previous review I did for The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the role of Religion also plays a big part in the story. In this case however it comes down to the fact that the Deepsman have no such concept, yet now a newly born half breed with no knowledge of this concept is to ascend to what is a Christian thrown.

The storyline itself jumps through time every now and again, allowing you to follow the lives of Ann and Henry form their birth all the way to young adults. This concept helps you to understand why they are the way they are and why they think and act the way they do.

Over all this was a really good story with a lot of attention to detail, and as Kit’s second novel I think there is a lot of promise for this author, can’t wait for the next book. If only history books were really like this.

8/10

If you want to find out more about Kit Whitfield then you can find her website here,
or if you would like to buy the book our SA readers can find it here,
UK readers can find it here, and US readers can find it here.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 5, 2009 in Reviews

 

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Warcraft Movie – News Bite.

Hi guys and girls, david here. 🙂

I have some news for all the die-hard Warcraft fans out there.

As most of you know by now, Blizzard is currently working with Legendary Pictures to bring Warcraft to the big screen.

Woop Woop 🙂

Latest new on this is that they have signed the AMAZING Sam Raimi to direct the movie.

Most of you will remember him as the very talented director that brought us such movies as The Evil Dead, 30 Days of Night, Spiderman 1,2,3 and most recent, the horrifying Drag Me To Hell.

With such an amazing director at the steering wheel we can definitely expect great things from the movie.

Now to find out who will be playing the lead roles. Any ideas? 🙂

As for those of you who don’t yet know about Warcraft, well firstly I feel very sorry for you  ;-), secondly this is basically what it’s about;

Warcraft is set in a rich fantasy world that revolves around an age old conflict between the forces of the Horde and the Alliance. Think LotR without the whole ring business, just the conflict between the two sides, skewed representation i know but at least that points you in the right direction. 🙂

The first game was released in 1994 and developed a loyal following ever since, and now includes a range of award-winning PC games and products such as novels, action figures, comic books etc. The latest expansion to World of Warcraft, Wrath of the Lich King was crowned the fastest selling game of all time with 2.8 million copies sold in its first 24 hours after release. 😮

Now if that does not give you an indication of the mammoth sized name Sam will have to live up to, nothing will. 🙂

If you want to read the full press release you can find on Blizzard’s home page, here.

I will also try to keep you updated with any further development in line with the cast, crew and release dates.

Have a great day. 😉

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Announcements

 

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