Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review - The Weight of Blood (The Half-Orcs)

My rating: 4/5

I have mixed feelings about this book.  It contains some of the most powerful storytelling I've seen in a long time.  The story has fantastic impact, and I can't wait to learn what happens next in the series.  It's a deeply affecting story that will get right under your skin.

Yet it's hampered by writing that's a bit clumsy and by a need for decent proofreading.  The story overall, the big picture, is mind-blowingly good.  Line by line, sentence by sentence, it is reasonably okay, and that's all.  Now, if I had to choose between a lame story told with consummate skill and a brilliant story told in an unpolished way, there is no question which I'd choose.  And despite my misgivings, this is certainly a book I recommend.

Harruq and Qurrah Tun are half-orcs living in a human city.  They're the ultimate outsiders, abused and distrusted by everyone around them.  They only have each other, and the bond between them is tremendously strong.  Then Qurrah meets a powerful magician, a necromancer, who can elevate him beyond his wildest dreams using some very dark magic.  Harruq is where he's always been, at his brother's side, disturbed by the unpleasant things he must do to support his brother's magic, but unwavering in his support.

The tension mounts when Harruq meets an elven woman who is as decent and kind as the necromancer is dark and twisted.  He would choose his brother over his enchanting new friend without hesitation, if not for the growing rumbles of his conscience...

The Weight of Blood is a complex tale full of action, moral ambiguity, and gut-wrenchingly tough choices.  Harruq is a surprisingly charming, likeable protagonist, despite the ugly things he does to support his brother.  It's a very dark story of complicated people trying to find the right path in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. 

The orcs, elves, and humans are to a large extent lifted straight from Tolkien.  The book is fairly light on world-building, with most of the author's attention going to the exploration of characters and relationships, and to plenty of sword-swinging action.  The book is bursting with adventure.

Did I mention that David Dalglish is a very bad man?  He gives the book away for free, knowing that you will become hooked (you will, trust me) and have to buy the rest of the series.  You can save a buck or two, though, by buying the first three books in an omnibus.

The Half-Orcs is a five-novel series.  Watch this blog for reviews of the remaining titles.

Check it out on Smashwords.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review - eFiction Magazine October Issue

I've been trying to get to this all month.  It's too good not to recommend, but it's nearly time for the November issue and I give up.  Not that the magazine is hard to read; far from it.  I was out of the country for two weeks and hideously busy the rest of the time and I've only had time to read about three stories so far, so here is my unofficial review based on what I've seen.

October was the Halloween-themed issue, and it's a good deal spookier than the usual eFiction fare.  Marcin Wrona's #Baphomet is worth the price of admission all by itself.  It's a compulsively readable, indescribably creepy story about a teenage boy getting himself in WAY over his head.  It's a really excellent piece of writing, and it's enough all by itself to make a subscription to eFiction totally worthwhile.

I read a few more stories.  Quality levels varied, but each story was worthwhile in its way.  eFiction Magazine is a non-professional magazine, with corresponding weaknesses and strengths.  I don't mean it's unprofessional or sloppy or lacks standards, just that not a lot of money changes hands.  There are stories that wouldn't quite cut it in a pro magazine, but they're still quite meticulously written and edited.  There are also stories like #Baphomet, which is as good as anything you'll find online or in print.

eFiction is put together by writers and staff who clearly love what they're doing, and they've created something that's well worth your time.  Some of the writing is a little rough around the edges, but there are unpolished gems you just wouldn't find in a shinier, more expensive magazine.  I would be proud to have my own writing in eFiction, and I'm planning to submit some stories. 

I'm looking forward to the November issue.  Read it online for free at or subscribe on your Kindle.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Win a Kindle - Time is Running Out

Only a few days are left in Red Tash's Halloween Bash.  Win a Kindle pre-loaded with dozens of books, including This Brilliant Darkness (reviewed below) and Lord of Fire, by me.  See for details.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Review - This Brilliant Darkness

My Score: 3.5/5

This Brilliant Darkness by Red Tash is a dark, pretty scary, quite original, and wholly unpredictable horror novel.  It's so chock-full of unconventional characters and truly weird plot elements that it's almost impossible to summarize, but I'll try.

Christine Grace is an American college professor.  A whole batch of weird things happens to her in short order.  A strange unmoving star appears in the sky, and it's only visible over Bloomington, Indiana.  A dark immortal creature is hunting her.  A man she's never met but has long felt connected with has come to Bloomington.  A mysterious young religious pilgrim is seeing her in visions.  And one of her students is exhibiting strange powers.  It's all connected, and somehow Grace is at the heart of it.

I liked the complete absence of familiar tropes.  I couldn't tell you what book this book compares to.  It's startlingly original.  It's also pretty well-written.  There is mystery, romance, rising tension, complex and compelling characters, and an ever-present sense of dread.

Some things I didn't like.  It's almost too weird at times.  Two of the characters are so deeply odd that the scenes written from their point of view are nearly incomprehensible.  Also, I must warn you - this book has some pretty gross imagery.  It's not TOO bad, but there is a scene early on, I'll just say that it involves a blood clot and leave it at that.  Not really a problem, but you should know that this book is not for the squeamish.

There is brilliance in This Brilliant Darkness.  If you're tired of the same old paranormal cliches, this will knock your socks off.

Read This Brilliant Darkness on Amazon.

Read This Brilliant Darkness on Smashwords.