My review of Tears of Heaven by RA McCandless

Tears of Heaven cover

An ancient Nephilim, SIG .45s and a whole lot of attitude!

This is an entertaining book filled with intense action, interesting historical flashbacks, great use of witticism and a supernatural protagonist who struggles with all too human problems and emotions.

Tears of Heaven is the story of Omedelia-bar-Azazel or “Del” and her fellow Nephilim who serve as agents of the Throne of Heaven, tasked with destroying fallen angels or “rouges” who have taken up residence upon the earth.  While this mission is of the utmost importance, Del doesn’t do it out of a sense of loyalty or the kindness of her heart. She has a deep seeded anger towards the Throne and the mighty angels that constantly demand both her service and allegiance. Yet her conflict with Heaven doesn’t stop her from wielding her SIG .45s with deadly purpose against the rouges.

Fans of the books of Rob Thurman, Jim Butcher or of the “Supernatural” television series will greatly enjoy this book.

From the start of Tears of Heaven, the gun-toting Nephilim Del takes no prisoners as she does battle with the forces of darkness. Del is a strong, yet conflicted woman who personifies what it means to be a true heroine.

I really liked the way that McCandless painted a picture of angels who showed deference to the plight of humanity, at times even reaching a level of animosity towards them.  The angels in this story are not the typical compassionate beings of light floating around the earth saving people. Instead, these angels are deadly warriors who kill without hesitation or regret.  As the protagonist Del points out so clearly in the book, “People think they want to meet an angel, but they really don’t. The awful truth is that meeting an angel is the scariest, most life-altering moment of any mortal’s short existence.”

The flashbacks to Del’s much earlier life helps to illuminate the events that turned her into the hardened warrior she had become.  This back story helped me connect to the character, as it described a much different time in her life, revealing a softer side of this deadly hunter.

“Tears of Heaven” by RA McCandless is a superb book that I highly recommend.

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My Review of The Crusader by JP Wilder

The Crusader cover An exciting adventure! The Crusader takes the reader into the dark underbelly of the Crusades.  The protagonist Aaron rides with the “Dark Men” carrying out special covert missions meant to hamper the enemy.  These missions are far removed from the battlefield charge, and instead are carried out in darkness to kill all the heathens they encounter.  The time he has spent serving among the Dark Men seriously alters his previously held ideas of honor and glory on the battlefield.  Yet, by undertaking these missions, Aaron and his companions have been given the promise of absolution for their many sins and a place in the kingdom of God. Rayfe the Darkstalker is a vicious killer who also happens to be the man Aaron must follow on a dangerous mission against a stealthy and equally deadly adversary.  This mission will put both his martial training and his loyalty to the test. Wilder delivers believable characters, exciting battle scenes and a solid story all around.  This was a fast read that held my interest from beginning to end and left me eager for the next book.

My Review of Nine Heroes

 

Nine Heroes Cover

This compilation brings together an outstanding group of writers who deliver a series of compelling tales of the act of heroism in its many and varied forms.  I was especially pleased with the variety of the stories and the fact that a number of the heroes struggled not only with their foes, but also with their own flaws and shortcomings.

In Black Sword, veteran writers Janet and Chris Morris  bring heroic fantasy to life through the eyes of the mighty Rhesos.  He battles with foes of flesh and blood while dealing with his own inner turmoil and a search for a sense of his true self.  Rhesos is a fearless warrior who deals decisively with all comers, yet struggles to understand his place in the world.  Great battle scenes combined with a deeper philosophical journey made for a satisfying read.

The Act of Sleepless Nights by Walter Rhein provides the reader with a very realistic portrayal of Kinter, a soldier and leader who’s flaws are many and well know to his men.  Yet for all of these flaws, an inherent sense of morality drives him to make the hard choices that others will not.  The is a solid story of a damaged leader who’s personal life is a far cry from ideal, but who’s actions in the field speak volumes about his true character.

To Kill a Myth by Jesse Duckworth is a story about having the courage to stand up for what’s right, not matter the cost.  The characters Mattock and Delilah, risk all to destroy an evil that has plagued the land for time indeterminate.  Duckworth shows how much one will sacrifice for love, but also delves deeper into the way that evil takes many forms as it inserts itself into society.

Bravery comes in all ages as becomes quickly apparent when 15 year old Rasi dives headfirst into a valley of flying death to save an innocent in: No Life Too Small by Douglas R. Brown.  Rasi is the embodiment of the hero who faces down seeming insurmountable odds to protect those unable to protect themselves.

Barczak’s To Live wets the appetite with the rise of a gladiator who’s returning memory brings with it the realization that his sword and his life are one in the same.

Dozen by Shane Porteous thrusts the reader into a harrowing attack by bloodthirsty beasts with an appetite for human flesh.  The protagonist Seutzingol shows his mettle as he puts his skills to the test against these beasts and makes the choice to stand and fight to help a stranger in need.  As you read “Dozen” you may find yourself looking out a darkened window just to be sure the beasts aren’t coming for you.  Sacrifice and honor are the most apt words to describe the message conveyed by Seutzingol and his acts of heroism.

Just One Mistake by A.L. Butcher tackles another type of bravery and heroism.  Coel the minstrel lives a life that was thrust upon him by his past.  An orchestrated encounter forces him to take on a mission in which he is subject to the possibility of imprisonment or death, situations far more than what your typical minstrel tends to risk.  He displays both resolve and courage in facing the danger and taking on a mission which will strike a blow against a vile part of the flawed society in which he lives.

In Witness to Death by Teel James Glenn, the reader follows Shouette, a warrior priest of Kova as he uses his finely honed skills to bring evil to heel.  In the process he is able to offer his protection to one, and a sense of closure and relief to others.  Shouette shows what it is to have courage as he genuinely feels fear, but acts in spite of that fear to do what must be done.

Through the Sting of Fairy Smoke by R.A. McCandless is another great example of the flawed, corrupted hero.  Pel Rogue is a champion who’s addiction has taken control and driven him down into a dark place.  Yet he finds within him a strength that has lain dormant to help him face his difficult trials.  McCandless gives the reader a look into the damage inflicted by addiction and how even the strongest hero can be brought down and must battle his inner demons before he can rise again.

Nine Heroes is a fantastic book and a very entertaining read that I would highly recommend to all.

My Review of Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris

Beyond Sanctuary Cover

Discover the tale of an intrepid immortal, his deadly shock troops and brothers-in-arms, power hungry mages, a malevolent witch and all manner of Hell spawned evil. This is “Beyond Sanctuary” by Janet Morris, a classic tale of good versus evil, interspersed with the many shades of gray that lie between the two.

This is a story of epic proportions; mages being exterminated to satisfy the near insatiable needs of the beautiful Cime, the ancient warrior Tempus doing battle with gods and demons and a danger filled journey to engage a formidable enemy and avenge the deaths of members of his beloved Sacred Band.

Morris’ exceptional skill becomes readily apparent as she fleshes out characters whose complex emotions and idiosyncrasies establish a real connection and draw you into their lives. I was especially taken by Nikodemos and the many trials he faces throughout the book. He is such a wonderfully deep and troubled warrior that I couldn’t help but root for him. Niko epitomizes what it is to be strong in both body and spirit. He takes each loss that he suffers as a failure on his part, even when it was well outside of his control. Niko struggles with these losses and begins to doubt his worth. But rather than surrender to despair he pushes himself to reclaim the balance that he has lost with his brothers and within himself. Such is his strength that he earns the respect of the Riddler, the love of one of their greatest foes and draws the attention of the Lord of Dreams himself.

Beyond Sanctuary is not a fairy tale of knights standing about in unmarred, shining armor singing songs of their undying love to silk clad princesses. This is about true warriors who fight and kill the enemy, then celebrate with well earned drink and carnal festivities. Morris’ work is filled with pitched battles, excitement and intrigue. It is a land of warring factions, wielders of dark magic, formidable fighters and capricious gods. I have travelled Beyond Sanctuary and truly enjoyed the journey.

My review of Gonji – Red Blade from the East by T.C. Rypel

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Herein you will follow the travails of a deadly swordsman whose wild Norse rage is tempered and refined by the ancient soul of the Samurai. This is Gonji – Red Blade from the East by T.C. Rypel.

Gonji tells the tale of Sabatake Gonji-no Sadowara, a Ronin of mixed Japanese and Nordic descent who roams across Europe in search of the elusive and mysterious Deathwind. Along the way he brings his considerable fighting prowess to bear as he battles evil in its many guises.

Rypel has created a wonderfully conflicted character whose internal demons are every bit as formidable as the enemies he must face during his journey. Gonji’s internal monologue would make it seem at first that he is elitist and self serving, yet every time someone is in trouble, he throws himself into the fight where his deadly Samurai skills quickly bring the conflict to an end.

Throughout the book, Gonji struggles to try and keep his honor intact while serving alongside those far removed from the concept. He routinely has to demonstrate great restraint rather than reacting to the multitude of insults and sleights. I enjoyed the way Rypel created an eastern “barbarian” who could speak multiple languages and had a wit as sharp as his killing sword.

Gonji – Red Blade from the East, the first book of The Deathwind Trilogy is an exciting read that leaves you wondering just what adventures Rypel has in store for Gonji as his quest continues in the next installment.

My review of The Reader of Acheron by Walter Rhein

The Reader of Acheron

A freed slave on a journey of self discovery, a philosophical sell sword, and a lethal enforcer all travel throughout a land where only the strongest and most cunning survive. The Reader of Acheron is a post- apocalyptic tale in which reading and knowledge have been outlawed and the populace undergoes mass indoctrination to ensure their unquestioning obedience. Drug addled slaves toil for their masters until they are no longer of use and are cast aside to become desperate killers, driven by an unquenchable desire for the very thing that has caused their demise.

I was instantly drawn to the character Quillion as he battles foes with both his sword and an intellect that is equally as sharp and dangerous. He lives by a code that is many times at odds with those he is supposed to obey, as well as the rule of law in the land. And yet he continues forward, undaunted, searching for enlightenment in a dark age. While not a slave in the traditional sense, Quillion, like many others in his time lives under the thumb of a tyrannical ruling class that suppresses their ability to think and act freely.

Kikkan is intriguing in his own right as he comes to recognize and then embrace the strength that he possesses and his right to be free. His actions are driven by pure instinct, without the intercession of educated thought or an imposed morality. Kikkan simply acts based upon his own experiences and what he feels driven to do.

The Reader of Acheron held my attention from beginning to end, and had a pace that flowed well. Walter Rhein has created not only an extremely entertaining story, but also a brilliant treatise on oppressive government, the true nature of slavery and the unlimited power of the human mind. I truly enjoyed this book and am eager for the next book in the Erafor series.