The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi (Book Review)

Having fled the Northern Lands, the inhabitants of the remote island of Turios, protect themselves with ancient magic.

This very same magic prevents King Beanor, ruler of Isk in the Northern Lands from leaving his kingdom and trading upon the southern seas. For 2,000 years the people of Isk have been forced to live in isolation, prevented from trading with foreign shores.

Keen to remove this barrier Beanor enlists the help of the wizard Aldin to remove the residents of Turios, so that he can succeed where all of his ancestors have failed, break down this magical force field and re-open the trade routes of the sea.

Unfortunately, the wizard fails in his task, leaving three survivors: the Priestess, Miril, a woman, Lil and her injured husband Bashinoir. Can Ilis, the young apprentice wizard, succeed where his predecessors could not, and appease his king?

Meanwhile, the three residents of the Temple on Turios have an added problem, besides the failing barrier, someone has travelled to the past and messed with the branches of time to try and remove them from existence. Will this person succeed? Or can the Priestess find a way to protect them from their fate?


Favourite Quotes:

“The life of all of the inhabitants of this island depends on the protection provided by magic. If the priests fail, if they don’t fulfil their duties, the consequences may be very harsh indeed.” – Priestess Miril. (p37)


“Get to the point before I cut off your head and throw the rest of your body down the toilet.” – King Beanor. (p54)


“Just be a shadow and a voice in his mind: that’s all you need to drive a man mad, anyway.” – Obolil. (p99)


“Life gives us gifts and brings us pain when we least expect it.” (p102)


The Branches of Time is a very well-written science fiction fantasy novel in which time travel is used to wipe out a colony of islanders and end magical spells that have been in place for 2,000 years. There is also a little mystery to the narrative that both keeps you guessing and whets your appetite for more.

Luca Rossi writes in a simple, easy to read prose that flows nicely as the characters develop and the story gradually unfolds.

The inclusion of an insatiable sex crazed bigamist king however, in the form of Beanor, makes The Branches of Time a rather adult novel with some explicit details, and therefore unfit for any younger readers.

A short book at only 159 pages, it is a quick read and the story ends rather abruptly and with no conclusion, leaving me frustrated and yearning for more. It may have been better had the author waited and completed this story as one novel, rather than splitting the narrative into smaller bite-sized novellas, but I will refrain from being too judgemental in this matter however, until I have read the follow-up novel, Volume II.

Luca Rossi offered me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My summary: At 4 out of 5 stars this is a great concept that is very well executed, but obviously incomplete.


Those interested in checking out The Branches of Time by Luca Rossi, can do so via here.

The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn (Book Review)

The Man in the Rubber Mask: The Inside Smegging Story of Red Dwarf

Now with 43.17% more smeg!


As the title suggests The Man in the Rubber Mask documents Robert Llewellyn’s time portraying the character of Kryten in the phenomenally successful BBC sitcom Red Dwarf. The book was originally published in 1994 but has since been updated to include 43.17% more smeg and republished by Unbound in 2014.

The story begins in 1988 when Robert is approached by Paul Jackson, the executive producer on Red Dwarf about the possibility of “some sort of part in some sort of sitcom”, and after meeting with the production crew he had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

Robert recalls the long arduous hours spent in makeup before filming could even begin and the various trials and tribulations of wearing a latex foam face mask and all over bodysuit, especially on things like his inability to eat lunch while on set.

It was Series 3 of Red Dwarf before Kryten’s character fully entered the show as a regular member of the cast, and Robert’s book provides details and anecdotes of life backstage in the company of Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Hattie Hayridge, the newly recast Holly.

The Man in the Rubber Mask is inherently an autobiography which depicts Robert Llewellyn’s life throughout his Red Dwarf years, all the way from series 3 through to series 10.

Check out this Kryten clip from the season 4 episode Camille:


Favourite Quotes:

“Half a pint of watered-down lager and I’m performing a sad, comedy stripagram on a bar-room table before you can say ‘keep your dignity’.” – Robert Llewellyn on why he doesn’t drink much. (p4)


“It helped me if I went slightly mad.” – Robert Llewellyn on adjusting to wearing the rubber mask. (p86)


The Man In The Rubber Mask provides an Interesting insight into the life of actor and writer Robert Llewellyn, as well as some insider details on the production and filming of all [at that current moment in time] ten series of popular British sitcom Red Dwarf.

Personally, having picked up this book as a huge Red Dwarf fan, hoping for a goosey into the interior of all things Dwarf, I was somewhat disappointed. Robert does of course go into painstaking details of his time ‘under the mask’ as it were, and while all this is indeed interesting I would have expected there to be more humorous anecdotes, stories and backstage banter between the actors. But then maybe my personal expectations were just a little too high.

Although I mostly enjoyed this biography of Robert’s portrayal as Sanitation Droid Kryten, it tended to veer off at times into some uncharted and slightly boring territory that didn’t seem all that necessary.

My biggest peeve however, comes towards the end of the chapter concerning the filming of series 8, when Robert veers off course and begins a tale concerning ‘Black Thursday’ which apparently takes place during the filming of The Rimmer Song (Chapter 10, p260). The Rimmer song actually appeared in series 7 of Red Dwarf, during the episode Blue, which would presumably have been filmed a couple of years previously. Call me tetchy but I’m a stickler for details and this particular continuity error grates on my nerves like nails down a blackboard.

At 4 out of 5 stars I would still recommend The Man in the Rubber Mask for any diehard Dwarfer keen to further develop their knowledge of the show. Those interested in reading Robert’s book can pick it up from via this handy link.


See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Red Dwarf: Backwards

Red Dwarf: Last Human

The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 1 by David Hawk (Book Review)

Following on from the original Race Through Space trilogy, Event Horizon begins with a very interesting premise: Neil and Marie are now estranged adults, but when Marie gets into difficulty, Neil is called in to come to her rescue. However, when the story properly starts, we return to Neil and Marie as children, shortly after the original Race Through Space trilogy ends.

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of books 1-3 of The Race Through Space Trilogy here.


…warning: potential spoilers…

Continue reading “The Race Through Space: Event Horizon – Book 1 by David Hawk (Book Review)”

Exoskeleton: Book III – Omniscient by Shane Stadler (Book Review)

Omniscient is the third book in the Exoskeleton trilogy from experimental physicist Shane Stadler.

Those not already familiar can find my review of Exoskeleton here, and book 2, Tympanum here.

…warning: spoilers ahead…

Continue reading “Exoskeleton: Book III – Omniscient by Shane Stadler (Book Review)”

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Book Review)

It would appear that it’s been quite a while since I last wrote a review, so here’s a repost of an old review from a couple of years ago that was originally on a previous incarnation of the blog.


A dear friend of mine purchased Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for me a number of Christmases ago, and with the knowledge that the novel is currently being developed into a TV series, due to air at some point during 2017 [Note: I originally wrote this review back in January 2017], I figured now is the time to finally get round to reading American Gods. [Another quick note: Since this series was on Amazon Prime, I sadly haven’t had the opportunity to watch it].


Before I begin my review I’d like to note that the version I am reading is “the author’s preferred text”:

“This version of American Gods is about twelve thousand words longer than the one that won all the awards, and it’s the version of which I’m the most proud.” – Neil Gaiman, excerpt taken from the introduction.


After spending three years in prison, 32 year old Shadow Moon is released back into the world. However it’s no longer the friendly, welcoming place that he had expected it to be, filled with love, friendship and brand new beginnings. Two days before his release, Shadow’s wife Laura and best friend Robbie, die in a mysterious car accident, under rather ‘adulterous’ circumstances. With no wife, no job and no ties awaiting him back in Indiana, Shadow soon finds himself in the employment of mysterious stranger Mr Wednesday.

Wednesday is a trickster, a rogue and a former god who Shadow encounters on a trip home to bury his late wife. Seduced into a new life as a bodyguard and errand boy for this rather enigmatic and temperamental ex-god, Shadow travels side-by-side with him across America, meeting some rather obscure characters whose fates are intertwined with that of his own. Meanwhile, the old gods and the new gods are preparing for war.


American Gods is a rather difficult novel to review, not necessarily falling into any specific category, instead it transcends all genres, from science fiction, to fantasy, to horror and also mythology. The author’s preferred text is over 600 pages long, and while it takes a number of days to read, the narrative is not boring, or stretched out too far, or even filled with unnecessary detail. Instead it flows along as easily as a paper boat on a little rainwater steam. However, the vast amounts of information contained within its pages may take some time to process properly, resulting in a fascinating, if rather slow read.

I’d rather not focus here on the intricate details of the story, as I do not wish to give anything away or detract from the reader’s pleasure, for those who wish to discover for themselves this bizarre journey before its adaptation adorns our TV screens. However, at 4 out of 5 stars, I can definitely say that it’s well worth a read.


For those wishing to indulge in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, you can purchase a copy from here.


Favourite Quote:

‘If Hell is other people, then Purgatory is airports.” – Shadow’s inner thought. (p20)


Final Note: The author’s preferred copy of American Gods, also contains additional bonus material including an interview with the author, and an American Gods novella ‘The Monarch of the Glen’.

The 5th Wave: Book 3 – The Last Star (Book Review)

The Last Star is the third and final novel in Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy for young adults.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not already familiar with books 1 and 2…

Check out my review of book one, The 5th Wave here, or book two, The Infinite Sea via this link.

Continue reading “The 5th Wave: Book 3 – The Last Star (Book Review)”

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)

Double Infinity is the fourth science fiction novel in the hilarious Brent Bolster Investigations series by author Michael Campling, and it is reminiscent of writers such as Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not previously familiar with the Brent Bolster series…

My review of book one, Dial G for Gravity can be found here.

Continue reading “Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)”