Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Review: The Silver Cage - Mik Wilkens

Imagine if you would two worlds joined together by Springs of Power. The Power in question allows magic to be shaped into spells and werewolves to take on the true form of the wolf. Our world, the Earth, has limited magic due to the lack of Springs. But this does not stop our business consultant, David Conner, from being drawn across into the magical realm of Lucasia.
David has dreams, not the type of wealth and prestige but of unicorns and wolves. In one such dream he is bitten by a wolf and wakes up to find that everything is just fine. That is, until the moon comes up. Rapidly, our totally bemused hero of the piece is drawn into a world so different from that which he knows where he has to learn to trust the very wolf that bit him in his dream.
I thought at first I was going to read another werewolf tale: yes and no. David is also a Pureblood, able to draw on the Power o f the Springs and shape spells. He is also wanted as a sacrifice to open a portal for an ancient wyrm who has all but lost its mind listening to the Stone. Add to this a whole bunch of double-crossing dragons, shape shifters and bandits and you soon get the picture of a world locked in an ever repeating cycle of wars between the demonic Phantans and the human populace.
The land of Lucasia is under the control of a powerful human witch, Alexsa, who is determined at any cost to open the portal to the Phantans and gain control of the Power and plunge the world into darkness and chaos. It was Alexsa that lured David into Lucasia, Alexsa that wants absolute Power, and Alexsa that wishes to control everyone. What she has not understood about David is his desire to regain the woman of his dreams from her clutches and his determination to do what is right.
Bring on the knight in shining armour.
Mik Wilkens tells a real good fairy tale, a land of magical folk that interact in real terms with the world and people around them. At no time does she let the story run away with itself. It is a tightly controlled, well thought out story that will appeal to both fans of the fantasy genre and newcomers alike. I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it is one of those tales that just goes on getting better with every page. I could easily read this again and again and keenly look forward to a sequel.
A solid title with no pretentions or delusions of grandeur. It does not copy from other titles or fall into age old clich├ęs. The Silver Cage is a great book especially when you consider the £4.37 price tag which for an ebook is well priced.
A good 4 ½  out of 5 five stars.

Buy The Silver Cage at Amazon

Friday, 25 February 2011

Potter!

I just started reading the Harry Potter series over the last couple of weeks and have not reached the Goblet of Fire. So far I have enjoyed it and only found a couple of tiny instances where things didn’t quite stack up for me. One instance was the opening of the Chamber of secrets where it states that there was a pipe large enough for man fit in. Later they are carried up the same pipe by a bird, phoenix, the size of swam, whose wingspan in considerably wider that the girth of a man. There is another in the Shrieking Shack where one moment Ron has stumbled over onto the bed then a few moments later he is on the floor then on the bed again. But these do not spoil the story, and neither should we let them.
So now I’m onto book four and looking forward to, my only regret is that I have seen the movies already, except for the Deathly Hallows. So far only the first movie rates alongside the book the others are poor shadows of the text. Hats off to Jo Rawling for a truly enjoyable series so far.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Yesterday - a short story

Was it only yesterday when I first saw you from the corner of my watering eye. How the chilly winter sun played with the gold in your hair. The sparkle on the still sea was nothing when I compare them to the light of your eyes. I watched you walk along the edge of the tide prancing out of reach of the effervescent fingers of the ocean.

You walked toward me twirling like a ballerina in the eye of the spotlight highlighting the every line of your body, your perfect poise, your flowing dress. And as you passed me I felt the warmth of your body? Could you not feel the cold upon your skin? Right then I was smitten, I caught the scent of your perfume as you danced by me and with it you took my breath away.

You laughed as I reached for the ribbon that fluttered from your hair. Smiling, you turned toward the sea and disappeared in the haze of the sun upon the water. I waited for you emerge from the effulgent splendour and radiate your own brightness upon the day once more, but you were gone. I remember feeling the cold caress of the sea upon my feet like the touch of death as I ran toward the place where you had stood. But all I could find were your fading footprints in the sand that ran to the water’s edge where they were erased by the rhythm of the sea.I remained until the tide turned, mocking me with its retreating hiss. I closed my eyes and tried to picture your face, recall your scent, retrace your fleeting steps to the ocean’s edge, there was nothing. It was as though you had never been. I turned my face from the ocean and as I walked away I raised my hand to wipe my eyes I found your ribbon wrapped around my hand fluttering in the wind. I closed my eyes once more taking a deep breath of your perfume. When I opened them the ribbon was gone. That’s when I heard your laughter like a bubbling stream. I spun around and there you were once more at the ocean’s edge. I called out as you stepped into the cold embrace of the sea and there in the watchfulness of the mellow November sun I lost you.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

What you see is what you get - Alan Sugar

A very enjoyable book tracing the life of Alan Sugar from his humble origins to the man he is today. Having been a young man when most of the shenanigans in this book were actually happening I found myself getting more and more interested in the stories. I remember only too well seeing the Amstrad name appearing on the shelves of Laskys next to my Cambridge Audio gear. Those cheap looking speakers taking up the same shelves as my Wharfdale Diamonds was incredulous. Bt at the end of the day this man understood what the average Joe in the street wanted from the money in his pocket and beat them all.
There's plenty of his business dealings here to fascinate a great many but was not until the later pages when the business of business began to fade away as giant corporations snuck in while he had his eye on the ball at Spurs do we something of the man himself start to shine through. It is when we begin to see the successes wane and the empire crack and crumble that we see the man behind the mask show us his face.
There are times when it is obvious that Alan Sugar does not do emotions. This comes through in hidden apologies which, as you get used to his way of speaking and dealing with people become as plain as day.
When he walked away from Spurs and faced the rigours of high court for something that was just not true we see the tough guy melt. From then on with the pressure gone we see a more open man who is more willing to expose his true self to a wider audience. As the book progresses through the sale of his first baby, Amstrad, and the concern for his personnel, his consideration for their future that in selling the company they are not exposed to the asset stripping that happens so often in business.
Alan, then takes through the creation of The Apprentice, and all that goes on behind the scenes and we get to see another facet of this somewhat extraordinary man who, when focused, can get the most of out of anything. It was then good to see that when he took up his seat in The House of Lords he was not not going to put up with false accusations from the Peers and toffs, which from my standpoint is quite remarkable.
In the end I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the growth of the technology industry or is just plain nosey and like to see how the other half live.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Book Review - pogrom by Clive Newnham

PogromPogrom by Clive Newnham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


From the very start I loved this book. The quirky sense of humour which pervades everything from place names to events right through to myths and lore is reminiscent of Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and even at times, Douglas Adams. With a sometimes quite cowardly hero, Curtis Kalashnikov, the Detective Inspector of the rudimentary Lodnun Police Force as its hero Pogrom sets about explaining exactly what the title is about. With me so far? Good then perhaps you can explain it to me.

A pogrom is a nasty thing, the extermination of a people or race. History is peppered with such things from the earliest of times to the current day. The difference with the titular pogrom is that it is totally fictitious but nonetheless truthful. Someone is out to get the Hoplins, they want nothing less than to drive them out of the land of Lodzamonkeze.

The mystery begins with an explosion at brewery which is blamed on the Yak’s milk drinking Hoplins. It then deepens with bombings of local pubs by the HERA, the supposed Hoplin freedom fighters. Further atrocities are attributed to the peaceable Hoplins until the city of Lodnun is in revolt. The mystery deepens and then shrouds itself in a veil of mist.

Or hero is framed for the whole nasty thing and is cast into the Lord Prefect’s dungeon to rot out his days. That is until a non-existent dragon and a very pretty witch get involved with Kalashnikov and turn his already topsy turvy world completely inside out and then shove it in a sack and attempt to drown it. From here on the whole world of Lodzamonkeze is cast into utter turmoil right until the bitter end, which Clive Newnham sweetens with a dab of sherbet and just a hint of minty freshness.

This is Clive Newnham’s first novel which he has self published at lulu.com, do not be put off by this. Pogrom is a superb story told in a gentle fireside tone with the lights dimmed just a little. Let the flickering flames of Clive’s dulcet tones draw you into the off-beat world of the Hoplins. You’ll soon be imagining the Dickensian cities and knights in armour battling dragons and the cloud boarding headless sorcerers as they all fight for freedom and justice and some fresh yak’s milk. Watch and smile as d’Earth scythes her way across the battlefields handing out life stories to the recently dead. Snigger and titter at the shenanigans of the endearing Hoplins then boo and hiss at the corrupt members of the secret services that would kill and maim for fine pair of stockings.

The more I read this fantasy the more I wanted to read it. The story is well crafted with great dialogue with, as I mentioned before, has a sense of humour that permeates everything. Congratulations are in order Mr Newnham, I raise to you a glass of Yak’s milk with a resounding ‘here here, and bravo.” Long may the series continue. A full five stars none of that semi-skimmed fat free nonsense.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sanitising History

I read an article recently about how publishers are re-releasing classing novels with older words replaced my more politically correct ones. The novel at the centre of this particular article was Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. In it the publishers have seen fit to replace the word 'nigger' with slave. In all honesty I cannot remember seeing anyone being offended by the work of Mark Twain, has society become so fearful that it is willing to re-write history just to make it more palatable to themselves.
I once went to central Uganda where I was in the ethnic minority. People would chase our truck down the mud track tracks shouting, 'Mzungu, mzungu' after us. Mzungu is defined here on the Urban Dictionary however, when we asked the children what it meant they replied, 'White and angry' which I thought was a good description of the average Caucasian in Africa. Not once was any native person upset by being called 'black' or 'nigger' or anything else as they had no concept of racism. perhaps the problems in the world are simply our making. Do we use political correctness as an apology for our inherent racism rather than dealing with the issue within ourselves and accepting that in some measure we are all racist.
I lived in the north of England for nine years and frequently, because of my accent I was picked on for being a southerner. This is not called racism just regional banter. But what if we change north to white and south to nigger? How would our regional differences sound then?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Reviews or rather the lack of

Since my book was published as an ebook, see http://www.theonesaga.com, I have had the utmost difficulty in finding people to review it. Most say let me know when the paperback is out and I'll read it for you which seems odd in a day when ebooks are supposedly selling in such droves. Surely the reviewers are keeping with the times? Off course I hope to be able to send out some printed review copies but they do not come free so I can see myself getting a job just to pay for books and postage. Are ebooks as popular as they pundits would have us believe or is it all hype?
There are now so many types of ebook readers out there that it is dizzying keeping track of them, so I don't. I've tried the iPad, not impressed, fine until you go out in the sun. Anything with e-ink works brilliantly and in general the lack of extra toys on these devices serves to keep us less distracted from what we sat down to do - read. It is like when I'm writing (like now distracted by a blog) the computer has so many other things that I'm easily distracted by that I am seriously considering getting something with no internet connection so that I have to get on with the task at hand. I used to write longhand and then type it up later. The problem there was that when the action heated up my writing became unreadable so I had to guess at what it said or just re-write it.
SO back to my first point, distracted again, what I need are reviewers / reader of fantasy who would like to review my novel. The only criteria is that you can do so on some form of E-reader, I can send you, via email, many different file types just let me know the prefered one.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sealed with a kiss

OK, so it's two posts in one day. This little piece is from, The Cord,  part three of my saga. The Cord is all about covenants, contracts and trust. The first strand of The Cord, if you like, is the tryst of a marriage and looks at how do you deal with a doubt and the result of following gossip. That and good deal of battling orcs and stuff. So without further ado here is the closing chapter of the first section of the book.

To help you three characters are: Emun, the husband of Lo and main hero of the saga, Lo, the prophet wife of Emun and daughter of Arrborn the priest.

Sealed with a Kiss.

Lo had cast away the words of Accuson, those that had haunted her thoughts and driven to the edge of sanity. She had listened to the whispers of the dark lord that would soon proclaim himself a god before mortals, words carried on the backs of insects that crawl among the filth. Like the words of a gossip poised upon the tip of the tongue always ready for the eager ear to catch. Lo had heard the whispers in her sleep and in the loneliness of her thoughts she had allowed them to take root and fester. She shuddered involuntary as she recalled how readily she had taken the words to heart and acted upon them without once stopping to seek the truth.
Lo walked up the worn pathway to the door of the home that Dorn had given them as a wedding gift. She took a deep breath and turning the handle she opened the door and went inside. Emun looked up from his plate of food and smiled, his lip trembled softly as he tried to speak her name. Arrborn, who had made himself a second home with Emun jumped from his seat and rushed to embraced his child.
"What's in the sack lassie, is it treats?" Lo swung the bag carefully out of Arrborn's reach.
"I'm afraid not," Lo looked at Emun with a heavy heart. "I know about Dorn," she looked down at the sack then back at Emun. "I am so sorry for all that I have done these past few weeks. I ... I," her tears mingled with Emun's hair as he pulled her close and embraced her. He took the sack from her hand and placed it carefully on a chair. "I ... listened," Lo said between sobs.
"It does not matter, I have you home now," Emun kissed the tears from her eyes then from her face. He placed he placed his lips delicately upon her trembling mouth and kissed her softly. They never saw Arrborn take the sack from the chair or heard him close the door.
The afternoon soon became evening as two lovers renewed their covenant. A hesitant knock at the door followed by a gruff cough reminded Emun and Lo that their father-in-law had been outside for most of the day. Lo pulled herself from Emun's arms and opened the door to find the dwarf standing with his arms piled with food and gifts, his reddened nose and sparkling eyes peering over the top of the stash. "Is it safe yet?" Arrborn asked almost dropping his bounty.
"Off course it is safe, why would it not be?" Lo asked then grimaced as the reasons why came to mind. Arrborn set his bags on the table and went about preparing something to eat.
"Is there any word from mother, Emun has told me of her journey north?" Lo put the plates in a pile in the middle of the table together with knives for the bread and meat that Arrborn had tossed over to her.
"None as yet, but don't worry about her. I pity any fool that messes with your mother she is not as delicate as she looks," Arrborn tore off a hunk of bread and rammed a thick slice of meat into it which he flattened between his hands before biting of a sizeable piece. Lo leaned across and picked out the crumbs from his beard. Arrborn winked at her as he took another bite then playfully stuck out his chin to have it groomed again.
"I should think not," Lo said drawing away in mock disgust, "there's something living in it," she said tugging at his beard.
"Something!" Arrborn blinked wide eyed, "a great many things I shouldn't wonder," and with that he proceeded to devour the rest of his supper in huge mouthfuls washed down with a flagon of mead. Arrborn yawned, stretched out his arms and belched, "that's better," he said.
"I'm sorry about my father he's a dwarf," Lo looked at Arrborn with a frown.
"He's in a class of his own," Emun quipped.
"Kids," Arrborn growled through another mouthful of bread and mead.

****

See you all again soon.

ps my current read which I heartily recommend to anyone who likes Terry  Pratchett or Tom Holt is Pogrom by Clive Newnham.

Welcome to my world

As this is the first post here I'll explain a few things.
I am a fantasy writer, not the erotic kind but the the Tolkien, Steven Donaldson, kind. I write the kind of books that I like to read though I do review books for a couple of websites for whom I read any kind of fantasy with an open mind.
My current work, The One Saga, can be viewed over at my website http://www.theonesaga.com the first part has been published by Vamplit Publishing and is currently available through Smashwords.com, Apple ibook store, Sony book reader, and a few others. Previous to the saga I used to write horror, my first ever book , The Rising, is available on Smashwords for free. I am an active member of a local writers group, The Horsham Writers Circle, and live with my wife and three children in West Sussex, England.
I will from time to time post some of my current work in progress here which you will be free to comment on.
I look forward to hearing from you.