Tag Archives: Book Review

Sins of Empire, by Brian McClellan

You may recall the gushing manner in which I plugged Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan. That book launched his Powder Mage trilogy, and his career, and I enjoyed following both¹.

sins type5Another trilogy is coming, and after the amazing way he stuck the landing on the first one, I’m simply taking it as a given that Sins of Empire will be a must-read.

That cover art? Click on it to for a closer look. Also, this is kind of the first time it’s been seen. I feel special. I also feel special to have Sins_of_Empire_1.2.docx sitting right here taunting me. I opened it thinking I’d been sent a sample chapter, but no, I have the whole thing. I cannot afford to be sucked into an entire book right now. I must be strong.

You can pre-order it today², and you can even pre-order a signed copy directly from the author. It is slated for release on Tuesday, March 7th, of 2017.

If you like the Powder Mage books, and want to support Brian, his editor, and the cover artists in their ongoing creation of them, pre-ordering is totally a thing you should do. Books literally live or die on the first week of sales, which is where pre-orders show up.

Here’s the back-cover copy:

A world on the cusp of a new age…
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place — a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word…
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.

The past haunts us all…
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

Yup. I’m in.

¹Do I enjoy the books more than I enjoy the Brian? It’s a tough call. He’s good company, except when he’s also in the company of his bees, or joining Sam Sykes in a long-winded account of their (dubious) heroism during the Yeti Wars. 

²Pre-order links!

Force Multiplication, and Death by Cliché

We just got word that our pallets of Force Multiplication: Schlock Mercenary Book 12 will be arriving sometime “in the next week or so.” If you want your copy shipped soon, now is the time to place your order.

A great many of you have already placed your orders, and are reading this and asking what OTHER book you can maybe order. Well, as it happens, my friend Bob has a book out! You may remember Bob from his guest-review of Hardcore Henry. That’s his blog style, and while it’s not the same as his literary voice, the snark does shine through.

DeathbyClicheDeath by Cliché is Bob Defendi unchained. It is the story of a game designer who attempts to sneak out of the worst role-playing session ever, and ends up in the game itself, starting with a room “lit by flaming brassieres.”

This may be misleading. Death by Cliché is not full of puns and dad jokes¹. It’s a funny, frightening, poignant, and exhilarating exploration of a world in which RPG clichés and sloppy game design are the governing principles, the unseen hands pulling the strings.

UPDATED TO ADD: My 21-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son both grabbed copies² from Bob last night. Five hours later—FIVE HOURS LATER—they both got grouchy when we insisted that it was time for lights to be out so the old people in the house could go to sleep.

Which is to say that my review may not have gushed to the level that this book deserves for some readers, including a junior majoring in illustration and a junior-high student majorly invested in Minecraft.


¹There are puns and dad jokes in the book. I won’t lie. They’re there. Not everywhere, but there. Usually as the set-up for something that is actually funny.

²He only meant to give us one copy of the book at Writing Group on Thursday, but he had a stack, and my children, even the adult ones, can be grabby.  

Javelin Rain, by Myke Cole

JavelinRainJavelin Rain is the sequel to Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell, and if you thought the first book was riveting, you’ll likely find Javelin Rain to have even more rivets, and maybe some arc welding. “Gripping” is a word that gets used a lot. Javelin Rain was definitely that.

Myke’s Shadow Ops series is shelved as Urban Fantasy, which is the bookshelf genre that bookstores use to tell people that the book features our world, except with magic in it. Bookshelf genres only really tell you what group of readers the booksellers are trying to aim the book at, and Javelin Rain could be very accurately aimed at fans of thrillers, horror stories, and science fiction—not to mention aficionados of military fiction, and anybody who likes to see a moral quandary laid bare on the page.

If you like any two of those things, you’ll enjoy Javelin Rain. If you like some of those things, and hate some of the others, Javelin Rain may force you into that uncomfortable place where you have to reconsider your tastes before growing a bit as a reader.

Myke’s debut novel, Control Point was described by Peter Brett as “Blackhawk Down meets The X-Men.” The best mash-up logic I can come up with for Javelin Rain is “Steven King and Brandon Sanderson perform necromancy on Tom Clancy.”


The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts, Episode 1

Every so often I read a book and wish I could have thought of the stuff this author thought up. It’s a little painful, and it’s made even worse when I know the author personally, and find them intimidatingly intelligent. I am forced to come to grips with the fact that this idea was not just lying around for the first comer. It was secured deep in a cave full of puzzles, and monsters, and death that only an author-hero could courageously and successfully face, and the cave itself is hidden so well I don’t even know how to find it.

GenrenautsBook1With Genrenauts, author Michael R. Underwood (perhaps best known for Geekomancy,  Celebromancy, and Hexomancy) has created a setting in which he can spin stories that mess very engagingly with genre, setting, trope, and tale. The first of these stories is The Shootout Solution: Genrenauts, Episode 1. It’s a fast, fun read, priced to move with the electronic edition currently at $2.99.

The concept runs as follows: our world is part of a multiverse in which the stories we tell congeal into planes or dimensions that operate according to trope-laden rule sets. These areas can reflect back on us. A missing happily-ever-after can mean disaster in our world.

As a creator I understand that the stories we tell say a lot about who we are. Commentary on these stories is a deconstruction of our culture, our beliefs, and even our minds. I have this sinking feeling that the Genrenauts series, with its raucous meta-commentary upon the stories of pop culture, is going to say important things that I might not be clever enough to catch the first time around because I’m too busy enjoying the books.

And it’s pretty easy to get lost in enjoying the story. Here’s The Shootout Solution in four words: “spaceships, cowboys, and comediennes.”

Obligatory Disclaimer: At the bar at ConFusion two weeks ago Michael offered me the first Genrenauts book for free. I turned him down because it’s easier for me to not lose a book on my nightstand if I buy it myself and put it in my Kindle app. Also, $2.99.

Non-obligatory plug: The next book in the Genrenauts series, The Absconded Ambassador, is available for pre-order. It drops on February 23rd. I’m in.