Brian's Book Blog

Mostly sci-fi & fantasy books, with an ecclectic mix of others thrown in.

The Silver Pigs

The Silver Pigs  - Lindsey Davis Rome in 70AD, and Marcus Didius Falco, informer/private eye finds himself caught up in an investigation that reaches to some of the highest people in the empire.

Told in a slightly tongue in cheek manner, this tries to be a Chandler-esque PI story set in the days of Romes ever expanding empire. For the most part it succeeds. The main character is suitably hang-dog in outlook; there's a good selection of high and low-lifes who'd prefer him not to be in their way, and naturally there are femmes fatales to move the plot along.

It was an enjoyable read, with good characters and a plot that kept the story moving along. You get some of Falco's back story to explain how he got where he is now.


Noonshade - James Barclay Follows on directly from [b:Dawnthief|469208|Dawnthief (Chronicles of the Raven, #1)|James Barclay||2225392].
It doesn't spend any time on a refresher, so if it's been a while since reading that book then it might be an idea to re-read that first.
Even saying that, you soon get up to speed on who's who, and what their roles re.

Following the casting of the Dawnthief spell, there is now a rip to the dragon dimension in the sky above Balaia. The Raven (a mixed group of fighters and wizards) have to travel there to fix it, or else the land will be invaded by dragons. The only problem is the various Wesmen armies betwen them and where they need to be.

Lots of action, and interesting characters. Well written and the pace keeps everything moving along.


Treasure  - Clive Cussler Pretty indistinguishable from any other Dirk Pitt novel.
Moves at a good pace, with a decent set of villains, and some tense moments.
Good book to read when you just want to switch off for a bit and relax with a good adventure story.

Traders and Traitors

Traders and Traitors - Loren K. Jones Stavin Kel'Aniston continues his upward climb through the ranks, and also into the traders' Guild, as well as mixing with the royalty.

As in the previous book, everything seems to land in his lap following each event, with no sense of anticipation to see how things will turn out.

The fight scenes are done well, and again there are a lot of them as everyone seems to want a go at killing him.

Seems a bit slower than the first book due to larger parts spent travelling between towns (although they usually end up in an attack against him).

At the moment, not sure if I will try book 3 in the series. The characters are written well enough, but it's a case of travel, get attacked, win, get some reward/move up a notch in the social ladder.

All that Glitters

All that Glitters - Loren K. Jones A fast-paced debut novel.
A warrior society that is renowned for the quality of men it sends to guard the caravans during the trading season. As they grow up, each boy has to do five tours to earn promotion based on any kills they make.

One of these boys is Stavin, who seems to have a lot thrust upon him as the main character. The start of the story seemed rushed, with everything happening to him, then it settled down as he was taken out on his first tour of duty.

Lots happening, usually involving killing bandits and thieves - makes sense as this is how they get promoted to different ranks, but Stavin does become a magnet for a lot of people wishing him ill.
Could have done with a few more tense moments, as you never felt he was going to be in serious trouble.

Overall, it's a good story and I'll be trying book 2 to see what happens next.

The Astonishing Ant-Man: Origins (Marvel Pocketbooks)

The Astonishing Ant-Man: Origins (Marvel Pocketbooks) - David Michelinie, John Byrne Collection of late '70s/early '80s era Marvel comics involving Ant Man.
Hank Pym has given up the role and operates as Yellow Jacket. Ex-con Scott Lang breaks into his house and discovers the Ant Man uniform and manages to make it work for him.

There's the origin story, an Iron Man/Hulk story (with a really talkative Hulk), then a series of Avengers stories, which all seem to involve the Taskmaster. All are well written and illustrated.

Features a wide range of superheroes, would have benefitted from a few more villains.

The Lost Village

The Lost Village - NEIL SPRING, Neil  Spring Harry Price, investigator of the unknown, and his assistant Sarah Grey, are invited to the abandoned village of Imber to look into supposed hauntings.
I'd heard of Imber in a TV documentary, and that was what made me pick this book up, as it's different to what I normally read.
The timeline of the actual villages desertion is changed for the story, and the events are nicely portrayed in a "show, don't tell" way that adds to the creepy atmosphere, letting you make your own mind up.

There's secrets within secrets and the characters are well written, from the sympathetic, believing nature of Sarah to the cynical view of Harry. Other supporting characters all have their role to play, and the story and dialogue keep moving at a good pace.

This is the second Harry Price novel, but you don't need to have read the first one for anything in here. It makes me want to look for the first one to see where it started.

Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding

Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding - Dan Abnett The first 3 novels of Gaunt's Ghosts series (plus one special short story) in an omnibus edition. Shows how they were founded and has good interaction between characters.
Has plenty of action, and being an Imperial Guard novel, there's potentially a cast of billions. Abnett focuses on a few key characters, and throws in the occasional "red shirt" who gets name-checked just prior to being killed.
The Ghosts are a rough-and-ready bunch, and tend to be looked down upon by more established/higher class Guard units. Partly this is through jealousy as they inevitably manage to get the job done that others couldn't.

The action doesn't let up and is a good read from start to finish.


Sentinel - Jon Kiln The series finishes with another threat not just to the kingdom of Palara, but the whole world.
Moves things along by a few years from book 4, then gets into the action.
The characters are acting less dumb than in the previous book, and they all have their parts to play in this one.
As with the rest of the series, it's all a bit basic, and no real surprises or moments of tension.


Champion - Jon Kiln More contrived problems for Queen Myriam and her group of friends.
People act even more unconvincingly/dumb than previous books, with everyone throwing themselves into the path of danger.


Warden - Jon Kiln 2.5 stars
Now that she is queen, Myriam decides to put her realm in danger by wandering off into the desert to search for her missing grandmother.
Once again, everyone is put in peril and saved by lucky circumstance and things just happening to fall into place for them.
Some of the characters take on more of an active role, and actually have some use, but it's a bit patchy as to when they do something to help.
Bit more action than in the first two books.


Guardian - Jon Kiln The story moves along as Princess Myriam and her group of followers try to take back the throne from her uncle.
Bit more happening than in book 1, but again it seems a bit rushed and basic.

A few more twists than the first book, and it will be interesting to see how they turn out, although you have to wait for the next volume to find out.


Mercenary - Jon Kiln Fairly standard fantasy, with few surprises.
Starts straight in the action, as a princess is trying to escape when her uncle decides to take over the kingdom.
It's pretty much one chase scene after another, and they conveniently seem to meet someone helpful at each point, until there's quite a crowd trying to get the princess to a safe place.

There's not much in the way of character or plot development, but the story moves along at a good pace (ending seems a bit rushed), and it's a quick read.

This is book 1 of 5, and the ending doesn't really resolve anything, so will see if book 2 improves things.

Operation Hail Storm (Hail Series Book 1)

Operation Hail Storm (Hail Series Book 1) - Brett Arquette, Jim Gabler, Michael Picco 2.5 stars - not great, but not awful. I was given this book in return for an honest review, so here goes.

It was billed (in the mail sent through Goodreads by the author), that as I'd liked Robert Ludlum books, then I'd like this. Reading other reviews, it seems he has a form letter and just replaces the name of any other author and finds people who liked them.

I've only read one Ludlum ([b:The Bourne Supremacy|15769|The Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2)|Robert Ludlum||2508588]), and this book is nothing like that.
More of a techno-thriller, would probably appeal to people who liked Clancy's "Net Force".

It could do with some editing, and cutting down some of the parts that just seem like filler. The characters didn't do anything to make me feel anything for them.

The Golden Dagger: A Bobby Owen Mystery

The Golden Dagger: A Bobby Owen Mystery - E.R. Punshon Interesting whodunnit from the 1950's.
A mysterious phone call leads Commander Bobby Owen and the police to an antique dagger covered in blood, but no body.

Lots of potential suspects crop up and it's up to Owen to straighten everything out.
The characters are more well-rounded and less snobbish (with the exception of the upper classes) than those in other mysteries of the same period.

This is the first Bobby Owen book I've tried, but will be getting a few more.

Ice Station

Ice Station - Matthew Reilly This was the first of the Shane Schofield (a.k.a. "Scarecrow") novels.
Everything is non-stop action, going from one over the top situation to another.
There's no clever plots-within-plots, or sudden twists. Each situation comes on at full speed and is usually dealt with in the same way.

As it's one of his earlier books, there's lots of italics to show how awesome things are. It may turn some people off, but it's always been one of the things I liked about these stories.

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