Sunday, March 9, 2014
Matthew Reilly enters the world of young adult fantasy with his serialised tale, TROLL MOUTAIN. For endearing protagonist, Raf, a scrawny teenager, seeing his younger sister fall victim to an illness which is running rampant throughout his tribe, he knows the time has come to face those who have the remedy, even if it means travelling across a dangerous land full of rogue human eating trolls, wolves, and hobgoblins.
The trolls of Troll Mountain have developed an elixir to cure such ills but demand a great price – the life of the one who seeks in exchange for the one they wish to save. For this reason, many warriors from Raf’s tribe have sought to take the elixir by force only to never return. Raf, hopes to be the first, showcasing his worth to his tribe and saving the life of his sister.
TROLL MOUNTAIN episode 1, is a very short read but one that accomplishes so much. The reader is introduced to Raf, a travelling companion, and a Troll unlike the stereotype in Dum (who instantly connects with the younger reader in us all) who together formulate the key group of characters we fellow on this dangerous quest.
Without giving too much away, the set-up for episode 2 is perfect. Enough cliff-hanger without being overtly so, and a distinct turning point in Raf’s quest to save his sister. I look forward for reading how Raf and co handle this next instalment.
*TROLL MOUNTAIN episode 1 is out in April from Momentum Books.
The Black Dawn duology closes with THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN; the fantastical eco war mixed with a religious like mythology and spiced with the otherworldly spun around young man, Gordon Black and his quest along the black feathered path. Accompanying Gordon, on a parallel path, is Megan, a Keeper in training who evolves into something much more powerful than a designated scribe of the Crowman’s legend, as initially introduced.
Author Joseph D’Lacey fortifies his characters giving them unique powers such as the ability to heal/revive the dead/near dead, morph into animal form, and transpose through time in a mystical ‘weave’ which creates a ghost like apparition of the traveller seen by few and feared by more.
The Ward and the Green Men return but with more purpose than the search of the seemingly elusive Crowman, rather, the two groups engage in fierce battle for the land – one to maintain and nurture mother nature, the other to build and deface (hence the earlier reference to eco war). Gordon, still being chased by the Ward and haunted by his family’s earlier abduction is faced with a choice few could stand to make. The ultimate result is the gratification of a legend, a validation of belief and a sacrifice beyond measure.
Twists and turns aplenty in the later stages of THE BOOK OF THE CROWNMAN really turn the story on its head, making this reader question what was considered to be actual story or a retelling lent more towards fiction than historical fact (re: Megan’s account). I thought this was a nice way to end it all but could see how some readers would want more closure – personally, the openness and individual interpretation of the revelation at books’ end is a real highlight.
Overall, an enjoyable read that introduces some interesting concepts and others that don't quite hit the mark. Well worth a look in as a form of escapism.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The third Bosch book takes readers back to the often mentioned Doll Maker case in which Harry Bosch took down a killer of prostitutes who took samples of their make-up as trophies. In THE CONCRETE BLONDE, Bosch is accused of having killed the wrong man when a new murder is uncovered which seems to have occurred after the alleged killer was taken out by Bosch.
Rogue policing is nothing new to Bosch. His cop mentality and iron first delivery of street justice has got him in trouble time and time again yet his method and madness doesn’t change from novel to novel. This is one of the things that makes Bosch so compelling and down to earth. He’s just a guy who wants to rid the world of trash, one garbage collection day at a time. Unfortunately, it felt like he didn’t get enough time to do just that with author Michael Connelly taking a different route for the third series instalment.
THE CONCRETE BLONDE felt more Grisham than grit and lacked some of the Hollywood noir of the first couple of books but Bosch is such a great character with enough of the dark him to maintain the readers interest despite a heavy emphasis on courtroom proceedings rather than the case of the blonde buried in a slab of concrete. It’s a good book but not great. Personally, more focus on the investigation into Doll Maker and this new victim and less courtroom thriller would’ve put this right up there with some of the best crime fiction.
I’m reading the Bosch books as part of my new year’s bookish resolutions and am having a great time. HERE are some of the other reading resolutions I’ve set for 2014.
Harry Ledowsky is one of Australia’s most awarded Creative Directors and has been a judge on every major Advertising Award in Australia. Creator of “Oils Ain’t Oils’ for Castrol, “Aussie Cossie” for Speedo, “Happy Joe Happy” for the NRMA and “The Bundy Bear” for Bundaberg Rum. He was National Creative Director and head of the Worldwide Creative Directors for Young & Rubicam and was named as “the second most outstanding individual in Advertising” by the Financial Review. He has won over 150 National & International Advertising Awards and been nominated to the Australian Advertising Hall of Fame, who said he was: “A master of drama, pathos and humour.” – bio taken from the publisher website http://momentumbooks.com.au/authors/harry-ledowsky/
I reviewed Harry’s book LETHAL METAL last week (published by Momentum), you can read the review HERE and visit the Momentum website HERE.
Harry was kind enough to stop by the blog to talk about LETHAL METAL and what readers can expect to read next from Harry Ledowsky.
(Josh) LETHAL METAL is a multi faceted thriller that takes aim at the navy, terrorist groups, the Russian mafia, and the health care profession. What was the drive for taking these distinct and diverse occupations and merging them together to formulate the core characters and plot of LETHAL METAL?
(Harry) The idea originated from small print article about children who'd found radioactive scrap metal on the roadside in Tallinn Estonia. They took it home and although several of them became ill, one died. So I wondered how this could happen and developed the idea of the kids discovering it, the Russian Mafia who were selling radioactive waste and an al Qaeda terrorist in the market to buy some radioactive material.
Set in Russia (and in its icy waters), LETHAL METAL, for me, was a unique read from a place setting perspective. Why choose Russia? What attracted you to the destination?
I really liked the bleak and unforgiving nature of Murmansk and the fact that it's the home of the Russian Nuclear Submarine fleet. When you do some research on the location you discover that literally dozens of submarines are rotting in the harbour, some have sunk with only the conning towers visible others have been picked clean of some of the outer metal which was sold as scrap. They must look like skeletons. Finally when you read that spent nuclear fuel rods are kept in various tanks, some leaking radioactive waste into the harbour , you get a very gritty picture. I liked that, it added to the colour of the place and the nature of the people.
I really liked the ying and yang feel to Alenkov and Jaafar; one wholly good, the other dark, menacing and dangerously beyond redemption. How important is it for an author to establish this dynamic within the context of thriller where sides are at times a little murky?
I think you really need a villain that, as you said is "beyond redemption" and one the reader really wants to see "get theirs". And for every villain you need a hero. Alenkov provided me with that although as a hero he's not perfect. That I think this makes him credible.
Dr Ross grows into a hero; someone the readers sees initially as a healer and devoted to the preservation of life by virtue of his occupation evolves into a trusted alley of the police and navy alike to rid the threat of further radioactive material being distributed across the world. Was it always your intention to have Ross almost on equal if not higher billing than Alenkov in the hero-stakes (note - this is how it was perceived by this reader)?
As we travel through life, experiences both good and bad form our attitudes and our character and often steel us for future events . No society can expected to survive let alone prosper if the individual doesn't stand up and fight for what is right and just. Ross initially wasn't interested in hunting down Jaafar because he believed that was Alenkov's job. But with the death of the child he became emotionally involved and committed to the hunt. It took the death of a small boy for Ross to realise that this was his duty as well. I wanted Ross to grow into the man he became.
What can readers expect from Harry Ledowsky? Any plans to write more of Ross and Alenkov?
As long as readers keep buying my books I'll continue to write them. I have another thriller coming out on March 11called Kill Zone, which everyone has said is better than Lethal Metal, I can't wait for you to review it and see if you agree.
In Kill Zone I've created a new lead character that can move forward in other books, Ryan Nash and 82nd Airborne sniper trained major. The synopsis is on the website so if you enjoyed Lethal Metal hopefully you'll enjoy Kill Zone even more.
As far as Ross and Alenkov are concerned they're happily living safely in Murmansk, but if Russia ever becomes the setting for another book I'm sure they'll show up.
The thing I like about this series is each book brings something new to the table. WOOL introduced the world within the silo(s) and some of the interesting characters that inhabit it. SHIFT gave readers the answers to how the silo(s) came about and provided context and rationale to the story behind WOOL whilst also linking the events of the two books into a semi prequel/sequel. DUST again brings new elements to the rich, yet densely contained world author Hugh Howey has created by virtue of an outside hope, determined protagonist further evolved from WOOL, and an expansion upon the events that have unfolded in the preceding books.
For me, DUST is the highlight of the series. Not only does it takes readers on a new journey but also defines the core characters, casting them in distinctly humanist light without diluting the ‘road to ruin nature’ which led to the creation of the silos.
Howey does leave the door slightly ajar for further instalments which may/may not be directly related to DUST and silos 17, 18 and 1 (the prime featured silos). There are 50 other possibilities and hundreds of years’ worth of cleanings, uprisings, and mayor elects questioning the order to explore.
As Howey writes at the end of the edition I read; the characters live longer than the book, the story resonates, and this is not the end (I’m paraphrasing). That’s good enough hope for me.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Urban fantasy and legend meet the post apocalyptic in BLACK FEATHERS created from the wickedly dark imagination of author Joseph D’Lacey. This new world takes all that it’s been given; decimating the populace and crumbling the society that has so scarred its land for as long as time can remember. Now, rivers overflow, volcanoes spill hot lava, the very crust of Earth splits and soil is borne anew. BLACK FEATHERS leads to a cleansing of the planet where savours are few and survivalists are the government made of single mindedness determination with a ‘control at all cost’ mantra.
For Gordon Black, a young boy blessed and cursed to follow the path of the Crowman, this new world takes everything from him while subjecting him to daily torment at the hands of the Ward and the ills of mankind in general. Gordon knows he’s special, his parents told him so all his life until the moment they were taken away for hoarding food and supplies during a time when rationing and natural disasters ran rife. Now on the path alone he looks deep within to discover what the Crowman is, and how he can influence the second coming of man.
The other side of the equation is Megan – a young woman set to become a Keeper; the person responsible for documenting and remembering the Crowman’s path and plight. Throughout BLACK FEATHERS she endures other worldly experiences and follows a distinctly similar path to that of Gordon, only, in Megan’s eye, past, future, and present blend into one. It’s a disturbing and slightly disorienting side to BLACK FEATHERS but makes the book that much more enjoyable.
The thing that impressed me the most about this book is the non conformity with the post apocalyptic genre in general – D’Lacey blends elements of the fantastical with almost spiritualistic remedies to provide a sense of hope to his characters that otherwise wouldn’t have had such a purpose.
Needless to say, book #2, THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN has jumped near the top of my TBR.
A naval investigator, undercover radiation recovery operative, and prominent local clinician attempt to stall an arms deal that would deliver a terrorist group a smattering of lethal weapons and access to radioactive waste.
Altered to the dangerous proposal by virtue of his work in the hospital emergency department, Dr Ross inadvertently uncovers the first glimpse of a broader spanning crime that not only has the potential to end his three young patients’ lives prematurely following contact with the radioactive waste but has far reaching ramifications for the rest of the world.
When the Russian Mafia are found to have leverage over the Russian Navel Authority, senior members find themselves in dire predicaments, forced to collude with the criminal underworld. Back room deals are made, cheques are signed, lives are placed in the control of others. For Captain Andriev Alenkov, one of the good guys of the navy, this blatant disregard for the service is foreign and without rationale, however, as the events and deeper plot behind LETHAL METAL unfold, Alenkov’s sentiments, echoed by the reader, are slightly displaced.
For all its thrills and kills, LETHAL METAL is a distinctly human novel in a sense that it evaluates the core aspects that drive humanity to formulate their own cause, structure, and belief. Each of the characters; from mob boss, terrorist assassin, to corrupt naval personnel come across as believable in their own right making the events seem all the more justified (hero and villain perspective alike).
The Russian place setting, whilst playing a part to a degree was more supplementary than core. If I had to critique, I would’ve liked to have had a deeper, more enveloping sense of place – even if the submarine scenes were elaborated. That said pretty much everything worked well and exceeded my expectations. Being new to the author and reading somewhat outside my typical genre(s), LETHAL METAL entertained and made me want to get to the finish as quick as I could.