Tag Archives: Grimdark

Hob’s Review of Blackwing by Ed McDonald

Blackwing (Ravens’ Mark #1)

by Ed McDonald

Paperback, 336 pages

Expected publication: October 3rd 2017 by Ace Books

I received an E-ARC of this book from Netgally in return for an honest review.

THE BLURB

Nothing in the Misery lasts…

Under a cracked and wailing sky, the Misery is a vast and blighted expanse, created when the Engine, the most powerful weapon in the world, was unleashed against the immortal Deep Kings. Across the wasteland, teeming with corrupted magic and malevolent wraiths, the Deep Kings and their armies are still watching—and still waiting.

Ryhalt Galharrow is no stranger to the Misery. The bounty hunter journeys to a remote outpost, armed for killing both men and monsters, and searching for a mysterious noblewoman. He finds himself in the middle of a shocking attack by the Deep Kings, one that should not be possible. Only a fearsome show of power from the very woman he is seeking saves him.

Once, long ago, he knew the woman well, and together they stumble onto a web of conspiracy that threatens to unmake everything they hold dear and end the fragile peace the Engine has provided. Galharrow is not ready for the truth about the blood he’s spilled and the gods he’s supposed to serve.

I goblinized the cover a bit to add Crowfoot, one of the nameless..

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OK that is some Blurb but let’s delve in to what it is saying in a bit more depth. First off the Misery. Well the Misery is when your number 1 fan kidnaps you and… oh wait wrong one. This misery while also being like hell on earth was created by one of the nameless as a kind of buffer zone between kingdoms. Oh, the Nameless are like Demi-Gods and so are the Deep Kings but they go about things a bit differently. But back to the Misery It is a buffer zone of hell on earth that has the annoying habit of trying to kill everyone that walks in to it. A place where you need a navigator with an astrolabe to find your way out. And that leaves you sick for days after you leave like you are going through heroin withdrawals. That is if you are not killed right off the bat by some of the beasties roaming around.

And this wonderful setting is where this book begins. This is written in first person. But while most First Person POV’s are the narrator telling their own story. This one is more like being in the mind of a man that is a drunk and borderline insane. A man that is haunted by so many ghosts of his past that this unreliable narrator goes back and forth between telling the story to some really weird places and random thoughts, and I absolutely loved it. Ryhalt Galharrow has a way about him that made me like him from the start. The pacing is steady throughout and by that, I mean it starts with action and never slows down.

The thing I really liked about this book was its originality. I mean yes, the writing style is extremely original. But what I am talking about is the originality of the story elements. Everything from the magic and monsters to the setting and style, they are all wonderfully new. I should warn you this is a pretty GrimDark world with plenty of death and carnage, but it is not gratuitous. The gore is part of the story not just there for shock value.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you are tired of the same old thing in every fantasy book that you read, then this book is a must. Blackwing is not only a magnificent story that is brilliantly written, but it is also outstandingly original. A truly remarkable debut book. I give Blackwing By Ed McDonald 5 out of 5 stars.

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Interview with Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow series, A fantastic epic fantasy with more than a hint of Grimdark. The Slab City Blues science fiction series. And his new series The Draconis Memoria …a Dragon Flavored Steampunk series. Book Two The Legion of Flame –– was released today in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.     I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of The Legion of Flame (Available NOW HERE) If you haven’t read book 1 yet, take a minute or two and examine the choices you have made in life. After that you can pick up a copy of it here.  Then feel free to read my review of book 2. Don’t worry it is spoiler free.

In Celebration of this new release a few of my goblin minions and I, with the help of Alexis Nixon at Berkley Publishing, were able catch Mr. Ryan (He can move fast when he wants to)  so we could ask him a few of my Famously stupid questions, and believe it or not he answered them! So, my thanks to Anthony Ryan for taking the time to do this interview.

1.      If you could do it all over again, would you change anything in your FIRST book?

 

Yes, I’d do more to eliminate the typos. Other than that, probably nothing. I’m not claiming it’s a perfect book, but I think once something’s done and published I think it’s best just to leave it alone. If I wrote Blood Song now it would certainly be a different book, for the simple reason that I’m a different person these days.

 

2.      Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

 

All the time. Everyone does, even if we don’t admit it. There’s a reason why publishers spend so much time and money on covers.

 

3.      Who designed your cover/covers? Where you able to work with the artist or is it all the publisher/artist/God?

 

For my self-published work, I’ve commissioned various freelancers over the years. I’m currently working with an artist in Germany, Kevin Goeke, who did the cover for my novella ‘A Duel of Evils’ (see more of his work here). For my traditionally published work the publisher takes care of commissioning artists / designers, although they do consult with me as part of the process.  –

 

4.      Have you ever had a side character Try to steal the show? Would you like to go back and make a spin off series or something for them? Or is there a theme or idea you’d love to be able to explore in more depth?

 

Sometimes characters become much more important than I was expecting, whilst others have a shorter lifespan than I intended. In terms of spin-offs I tend to use my shorter works to explore characters who I liked but didn’t get very much screen time in the full length novels. In my novella ‘The Lady of Crows’ I enlisted a character at an earlier point in her life as a means of exploring the criminal underworld of the Raven’s Shadow setting.

 

5.      If you could read any book again for the first-time, what book would it be?

 

Probably ‘The Book of Three’ by Lloyd Alexander, which set me on the road to a lifelong obsession with fantasy.

 

6.      What was the best thing before sliced bread?

Unsliced bread.

 

7.      How many books have you written, how many have you tried to publish, and how many are in print?

 

With the ‘Legion of Flame’ I now have five traditionally published books in print, with a sixth, the collected edition of my ‘Slab City Blues’ sci-fi noir series, self published as print-on-demand. Back in my twenties I tried to publish a very bad crime novel which was rightly rejected by every agent I sent it to.

 

8.      Have you found any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

 

My hands hurt if I type too long without a break. The main actual risk is that it’s a sedentary occupation and you need to remember to go for a walk every now and then. Other than that, there’s always the chance that someone who didn’t like my last book might send me a weirdly passive aggressive email.

 

9.      What is your favorite word? Least Favorite?

 

My favourite word changes by the day, at the moment I find myself most taken with ‘gargantuan’. My least favourite: ‘puce’.

 

10.  How many people have you killed over the course of your career?  Real people first, then fictional.

 

As for the real people, nobody squealed and the coppers were never able to pin nuttin’ on me, y’hear! As for fictional people, let’s just say I’m probably a mass murderer.

 

11.  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?  Did it end up helping? Or did we just count that person in question 10?

 

Criticism is only useful if it’s considered and not just someone slinging abuse. I think the best criticism I received was being encouraged to concentrate on clarity rather than lyricism when it comes to my prose.

 

12.  What has been the best compliment?

 

I always like to hear from people who’ve gotten something positive from one of my books, especially during difficult circumstances. I occasionally get emails from veterans or active service military people who seem to get a lot out of them, which is nice to hear.

 

13.  Do you have any advice to give a new writer?

 

Learning not to give up is a skill you have to acquire along with everything else. Other than that, read as much and as widely as you can and finish what you start.

 

14.  What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

 

The last book I read was Blackwing’ by Ed McDonald and it was terrific.

 

15.  What one question do you think I should have asked you, but didn’t?

 

Would you like a million dollars?

Yes. Yes I would love a million dollars….. Oh, I was supposed to ask you that. Well never mind then.  That’s all of the questions I have. Thanks once again to Mr. Ryan for spending the time to talk with me. To you, my loyal Goblins I say you really should check out this great series. It is Steampunk with friking Dragons! What more could you want?

SP dragon

Don’t ask me why the dragon above has goggles on his hat and his eyes. Who am I to judge a Steampunk Dragon? Seriously though this dragon was drawn by my Daughter I added the hat and goggles.

 

 

Ebook:  Amazon.com  –  Amazon.co.uk  –  Nook  –  Kobo  –  iBooks

Hardcover:  Amazon.com  –  Amazon.co.uk  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Indiebound  –  Waterstones  –  Wordery  –  The Hive

Audiobook:  Audible.com  –  Audible.co.uk

 

Hob’s review of Heart of Stone by Ben Galley

The Heart of Stone
by Ben Galley

The Blurb

Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.

Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.

Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.

Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare.

Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.

I received an E-ARC copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First things First. I had an ARC so I can’t really say anything about the errors there are some but almost all in the last quarter of the book and I am sure they will get fixed before publication. The cover was done by The wonderfully talented Shawn King. It is so simple yet compelling I really like the style of it. I did Goblinize® the cover but I feel that I need to apologize for it.

I am sorry Shawn and Ben.

hartg

Now to the Fun Stuff!

OK this is set in a pretty Grimdark world but almost all of the story takes place in one country named Hartlund.

map2

Now that you know where the story happens let me tell you a bit about who it happens to.  The main Character is a 400 year old Stone Golem. His name is Task and his “task” is to kill people. He is bound by the magic that made him to serve his master. So for 400 years he has been moved around and sold from one master to the next. And since he is thought of as a war machine that means he was sent from one war to the next.
Like I said before the world is a pretty Grimdark place with a lot of wars. Since Task was created all of the wizards that made golems have died and Task is the last of the Windcut stone Golems. When he arrives in Hartlund he is told that he is needed to turn the tide of a civil war that has been going on for 9 years already and his side is losing. His new master is a pompous ass hat just like all of his others and orders him to the stable until they march. That is where he meets Lesky a little girl that works the stable and she becomes his first friend in a very long time. That’s all I am going to say as far as plot goes.
This is the first book by Ben that I have read and I ended up really liking  his style of world building, but was a bit nervous at first. For example there are large lizard type things that are used like horses and he doesn’t sit and describe what they look like. They are slowly described throughout the book through things like someone touching their scales or saying how they moved. There are a few things like that and while I usually don’t like that type of world building he did it really well.
I am going to be honest and say there is a lot of violence in Heart of Stone, but it is there for a reason. Its not dismemberment for the sake of upping the gore factor.  Even with all of the gore and the battles I was amazed at my reaction to some of the later parts of the book. Just like with the descriptions of the lizard things happening slowly, my emotional attachment to some of the characters happened almost unnoticed by me, however  it was a deep attachment.. It wasn’t until one part when  something happened to someone when I felt a real tear that I knew I cared about these imaginary people. When I say things like “brought a tear to my eye” in reviews it usually means that I felt kind of choked up, but I really had a tear or two on my cheeks while reading this and that has not happened to me in a long time.

 

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed Ben’s style of writing. It was almost sneaky the way he made me care about the characters.  This is a standalone book not a series which is kind of nice. It has been a while since I read one of those, and even longer since I read one anywhere near good as this book.  This is the first novel I have read by Ben Galley but it most certainly will not be the last. Heart of Stone is one action packed, bloody, emotional ride and I loved it. It receives 5 out of 5 Little Goblins© from me

The Heart of Stone

Mar 30, 2017

by Ben Galley

Available for Pre-order on Amazon. It will be released on March 30, 2017.

Hob’s Review of Circle of Reign by Jacob Cooper and a giveaway

Circle of Reign

I first came across Jacob Cooper back in August of 2015. I had a job that I could listen to books most of the day, so I went through audio books fast.  For that reason I was searching Audible one morning before I went to work for something new, I only had 2 requirements. First that it was read by someone I liked already. And second that it was long. When I  search for a new book I usually do a search of my favorite narrators first. I searched Luke Daniels  and didn’t see anything new. Then Michael Kramer and what do you know, I saw Circle of Reign a bit over 20 hours long. I was in a hurry so i didn’t even read the description, I just started downloading it to my phone and left for work.

I know what you’re saying right now. You are saying “How the hell can he remember doing a search for a book over a year ago?” Well I have a pretty good memory when it comes to what happens in books. But not names, if I ever meet you in person save us both some awkwardness and tell me your name at least 10 times over the next hour or two. I am almost as bad with book titles and even worse with Song titles.  But if we had met at a book store and we walked down the aisles I can point to every book I have read and give a synopses of what it’s about.  That is a lot of books, but let’s get back to the one I am reviewing, whatever it’s called.

I usually start my reviews with the Physical aspects of a book. But we need to go about this one differently.  See  this book Is not  the same one I downloaded over a year ago. Well that’s not actually true. Since I first listened to it till now it has undergone a lot of changes. No I don’t mean like puberty. Jacob was approached by a guy you might have heard of named  David Farland and if you don’t recognize him from his Runelords Series, you might know some of the people he taught while a English professor  like Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Stephanie Meyer. (You shouldn’t hold that last one against him.) David had read CoR and enjoyed it but thought this self published first time author could make it even better with some coaching. So together they cut about 35,000 words and then added  around 70,000. The result is not really a new book but I will admit a better one.

Now let’s get to the Physical part. The cover is pretty cool and shows a part out of the book well. But it is not very eye catching. I listened to the audio book again excellently narrated by Kramer.  And while the first version was a nice long AB this version is even longer at  24 hours 37 min. But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can pick the eBook up free on Kindle Unlimited and one of my lucky readers will get a free audible download code. More about this at the end.

Now a bit about the book itself.  The story takes place in a rather Grimdark world,  where the land seems to be dying. The country is called Senthara, and it is one of the last bastions of humanity. But on occasion people looking for farmable land  come with their whole civilizations but that is the plot for the prequel  Altar of Influence: The Orsarian War.   Also free as of now on Kindle Unlimited.

One of the things I love the most about this book is the action POVs. Like in the graphic below there are 3 people 2 fighting and one watching.  Well you as the reader are not bound to one POV you are bound to the action. During this fight you will see out of each one’s eyes and here their thoughts. It is so cinematic you can’t help but picture a movie in your head as you read. If you click the preview button at the bottom then click part one you can read this scene.

co1r2

The blade on the right was actually made from a description in the books by Fallen Oak Forge. Here is a better picture.

sword

I wouldn’t actually classify this series as Grimdark, but it is a near thing. The only reason  holding it back is no one really knows how screwed they are. The main character is Reign A Wood dweller of the Western Provence known as Arlethia.

map2

What is a Wood dweller?  Well they are not long lived like elves but they do have the ability to sense vibrations of anything moving close to them through the tree roots and are blessed with an almost super hero level speed . We see that right from the start in the battle I pictured above.

Do yourself a favor and read the preview Here

 

 Final Thoughts

A few things didn’t really fit smoothly for me but they will probably be resolved in book two. There is quite a bit of in world language used that did get a bit confusing at times but not enough I didn’t know what they were talking about. I loved the original and rated it 4.5 stars. This one was even better and it gets a full 5 stars out of 5. Keep reading to find out more about the giveaway.

circl21e

 

Win a free Audiobook version of Circle of Reign!

Jacob is a sucker for poetry. But only likes the kind that begin with Roses are red . So the best Roses are red poem of at least 30 words but no more than 100,000 wins. I am joking of course many of you know about my aversion to poetry. But I bet you didn’t know I am a published poet. Yes, sadly that is true but I don’t even remember the name of the book. ( I mentioned I am bad with names) And while the first 2  results of a Google search of Trevor Sherman poetry  will be links to something I wrote thankfully it’s not actual poetry.  No for a chance to win a free Audiobook just comment below. While you are at it you should comment on my other giveaway here. But don’t forget to comment below first! Good luck And if you lose you can always buy the book at the links below. One winner will be chosen Randomly from the comments below on this post. The drawing will take place on January 27 around 4 pm eastern. Any questions feel free to contact me 

Audible

Barnes and Noble

ISBN-13:

9780692246733

Publisher:

Jacob Cooper

Publication date:

12/27/2016

Series:

Dying Lands Chronicle , #1

Pages:

798

Hob’s Review of Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

 

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor)

by Mark Lawrence

 

  • Publication date Apr 2017
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
  • ImprintHarperVoyager
  • Publication City/Country London, United Kingdom
  • ISBN100008152306
  • ISBN139780008152307

 

Wow where to start? I am kinda at a loss for words. That might be because it is 7:15 am and I was reading for the last 6 hours straight and I am exhausted. But I think it’s more likely that my brain just can’t contain all of the awesome that I read in that 6 hour stretch.

Well I guess I will start like I always do with the Tactile and visual parts of the review.  I love the cover It is a great visual description of the book without giving anything away. Plus it’s just some damn good art. It could have been improved a bit, but I went a head and fixed it.

red-siste2r

There were 5 or 6 Grammatical things I noticed. But all small things like bought her hand down instead of brought and in in instead of it in. I did have an ARC not the Final version of the book. I am just mentioning it so that in the unlikely event they haven’t been fixed already they will be before its published, I am not taking any points off.

“I have been too young to know, and I have been too old to care. It’s in that oh so narrow slice between that memories are made. So enjoy it.” – Sister Pan

I love Marks writing because on a almost subconscious level there is a meter or tempo to it. It’s not like a rhyming poem or anything, and it’s really hard to put a finger on what “it” is. I think “it” is the sentence structure its self. He writes like a great Orator speaks. The cadence of the words pulling you in to his stories  almost hypnotically. It has taken me reading 7 books by Mr. Lawrence to actually come to that conclusion.  I am probably wrong and its just a compulsion spell.. And while I am not accusing him of witchcraft or sorcery, per se. His prose has definitely cast its spell on me.

1

You would not believe the amount of times that I have read a series by an author then read their new series, and it felt like…. well like the same books almost. At the very least, many authors fall in to old speech patterns using new mouths.  I have actually thought about this way too much in the past, and I came up with an explanation for it. The characters from the old books are in the FBI’s (Fictional Body Importation) Protagonist Protection Program.  (Rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it?) Their names have been changed for their own safety and they have been moved to a new world to start over. But just like Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven they soon get up to their old tricks again.

hob-heaven

In Mark’s first two trilogies he managed to make the protagonists so completely different from each other I was amazed. And Yes he did it again with Red Sister. I know I know, the protagonist in this book starts out as a 7 or 8 year old girl and yes it takes place on a completely different world. So it sounds like it would be easy to make them unique. But even the Narrative flow in Red Sister was different from the Broken Empire books. While still having the Orator’s Tempo I talked about before. It really did amaze me.

“But be warned, young Nona: a book is as dangerous as any journey you might take. The person who closes the back cover may not be the one that opened the front one.” – Sister Kettle

Ok Like I just mentioned, Red Sister takes place on a completely new world. New to us that is. Its actually so old it is dying, really in fact it is the Sun that is dying. Causing the slow formation of a Ice Planet like Hoth from  StarWars. The only glacier free area of the planet is a 50 mile wide strip that goes all the way around the planet. I Picture it just like Beggar’s Canyon back home.  Only wider obviously.

And the only Reason that 50 miles is still open is because of a moon…… “That’s no moon kid” That’s a focus lens! Every night it gathers the light from the dying sun focusing it in to a single beam that sweeps over the area with enough heat to keep the glacier from closing in on them. If that’s not bad enough, the “moon” is in a decaying orbit and will soon return to the planet and then the ice will close on the people like a giant trash compactor.. “C-3PO come in C-3PO where are you C-3PO OH where could he be?” Sorry can you tell I went and saw Rogue One again today?

Final Thoughts

It is not only a great story, but beautifully written as well. I loved the ending but at the same time I wish I hadn’t gotten to it yet. It was by no means a small book but I read it in three sittings, and that only made me want more.

Mark Lawrence has been the author of my choices for book of the year for the last 2 years in a row. Red Sister was the first book I finished this year but it is possible he might get my vote a third time. Red Sister gets a Outstanding recommendation from this goblin with 5 stars out of 5

P.S. if you’re a Mark Lawrence fan don’t forget to enter my free drawing to win a Broken Empire themed book cover! A $90.00 value for free! Just go to my blog post  here and make a comment and you will be entered.

To Pre- Order Red Sister click below

Amazon

Book Depository

 

The Grim Tidings Podcast

Rob and Phil bring us up to date on what’s up with the podcast, including upcoming guests, news about their new website, and a look back at their  favorite episodes of 2016, a special preview of Grimdark Magazine issue #10, and list a few of the most anticipated grimdark / fantasy novels of 2017. They also announce the winner for best novel of the year as voted by the members of Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers (the GDAF award) Hint It is the one I voted as best Grimdark  Book of 2016 in The Fist Ever Goblin Awards Then most importantly they talk about me!!

Yes, a new feature on this awesome podcast will be the Blog of the week. And they made a great start to it by naming The Blogin’ Hobgoblin as the first one! I love this podcast and have for a while now. If you haven’t listened to it yet you need to check it out The Grim Tidings Podcast

Hob’s REVIEW of The Last Sacrifice (Tides of War) by James A. Moore

The Last Sacrifice (Tides of War)

by James A. Moore

Jan 3, 2017

length 320 pages

I received a free E-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes how I rate this book.

The start with the Facts of the book. just the Facts ma’am. I received an ARC that was not the final version so I won’t take off points for the Typos. However I do hope they get fixed before the final release January 3rd of 2017. There was hardly any errors in the first half of the book. Then around the halfway point I started seeing a few,  just little things like smile when it should be smiled. But as the end drew near I started seeing more and more.  Now the cover, well the cover  is fricken awesome. It really captures what the book is about even though you won’t understand that until  you are in to the book a bit.

Now we talk about the story. Well it was, as we say in a Facebook group I am in, “It was GDAF” or Grimdark as fuck!  So in a word “GREAT”.

Thanks for coming. See you later! Hope you enjoyed the review…….

For your enjoyment, here is an Undying Goblin lets call him Dowru-Hobs  and he just wants a hug.

goblin-movie-syfy-2010-cloak

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Okay Okay I was just kidding. I am a Dad. I have to tell a certain amount of bad jokes a day. If I don’t hit my quota I could lose my Dad Card and you wouldn’t want that on your head now would you?

No, really it was a great book.  Even though we never really get to know the characters all that well, you can’t help but feel for some of them. That’s because James…er the Gods in the story are mean and petty. James  really is a nice guy, he even wished me a happy birthday while I was writing this review.  It literally just popped up on my screen now. Thanks James! Not very Grimdark of you though…… No we will never be happy with anything you do…….  Where was I before I was so rudely interrupted? oh hey interrupting isn’t very nice so I guess it was Grim if not very dark, to wish me a happy birthday. But what is Mark Lawrence’s excuse?

What? No I am not bragging! I had a perfectly good reason to tell you all that i got birthday wishes from some of my favorite authors. It’s not like I went out of my way to say Richard Knaak and Peter Newman . and many others wished me a happy birthday geez!….Let’s get back to the review….

This story is told in third person, and for the smallish size of the book, there are a lot of different POVs. That’s why we never really got to know anyone that well. But I have to admit the starting POV was done really well. I almost felt a few tears welling up and I didn’t even know what the hell was going on yet.  When I figured it out I was really upset. I remember thinking what a fucked up world these people live in.  And it is a Grimdark setting . I am not going to go into the plot but I will say you would not want to live in this place.

Final thoughts

It wasn’t that short of a book but it did feel that way because there was a lot of action. A lot of POVs but done well so it wasn’t confusing.  The ending came abruptly and without coming to much of a conclusion. But the way the ending summed up what everyone was doing and where they were at  was a nice touch, and that made up for the lack of a firm resolution  As it is I can’t wait for the next book and this one isn’t even out yet. Definitely a wild ride and I can’t wait to ride it again. I give The Last Sacrifice 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

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