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.

Supernatural: War of the Sons (Book Review)

War of the Sons is book six in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is co-written by Rebecca Dessertine and David Reed. It takes place during season 5, between episodes 14 (My Bloody Valentine) and 15 (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), taking the Winchester brothers on yet another trip across America, this time to a completely different decade.

 

…possible spoiler warning for those not familiar with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: War of the Sons (Book Review)”

The Solaris Saga by Janet McNulty (Book Reviews)

This review comprises the four novels in Janet McNulty’s space opera series, The Solaris Saga. You can read my full review of book one ‘Solaris Seethes’ via OnlineBookClub.org here.

 

…beware of spoilers… Continue reading “The Solaris Saga by Janet McNulty (Book Reviews)”

11.22.63 by Stephen King (Book Review)

For me, Stephen King has always been one of those ‘hit or miss’ authors, whose books are either amazingly unputdownable or so hopelessly dull that they are difficult to finish. I remember watching the TV adaptation of 11.22.63, starring James Franco, a few years ago and finding it to be quite a fascinating story of historical time travel. Would it really be possible to change or influence the present, by going back in time to alter major events from the past? This in essence is what 11.22.63 is all about. Local teacher, Jake Epping travels back in time in a bid to prevent the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.

 

I really, really wanted to love this book. It was great to see what life was like in the 1950s and 60s America, before the electronic age of computers and smart phones, when people lived a simpler life. Unfortunately though, the story dragged on and on, overstuffed with intricate details and seeming to go nowhere. It took a long time to reach the crux, and even then, the story continued on and on and on, until I was praying for the book to hurry up and end.

The premise of 11.22.63 was good, the time travel theme enjoyable, the past trying its level best to prevent Jake from making significant changes to the future, great. But, overall, the story was far too wordy and drawn out, with a few difficult to comprehend scenes towards the end. The result, a rather rambling and tedious novel.

At 2 out of 5 stars, not a Stephen King book that I would recommend, check out the TV series instead.

Discworld: Book 9 – The Illustrated Eric (Book Review)

For World Book Day 2019 we honour a legendary icon in the world of Literature, Sir Terry Pratchett.

 

For his ninth foray into the flat world of the Disc, Terry teams up with Illustrator Josh Kirby, and together they produce a simple adventure story starring everyone’s favourite incompetent wizard, Rincewind.

Rincewind, as previously mentioned, is probably the most incompetent wizzard on Discworld, and after an altercation with a Sourceror (see Sourcery), the hapless wizard becomes trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. Around the same time that Rincewind is searching for a way back home to Ankh-Morpork and Unseen University, a young demonologist named Eric Thursley, is attempting to summon a demon whom he hopes will grant him his customary three wishes; Love, immortality and to rule the world. Unfortunately, he accidentally summons Rincewind instead.

As a result, Eric gets a little more than he bargains for when Rincewind, and his rather hostile travel accessory, The Luggage, leads him on an adventure through time and space, one which he’s not likely to forget in a hurry. The moral of this enchanting story, be careful what you wish for!

 

Favourite Quotes:

“I run, therefore I am; more correctly, I run, therefore with any luck I’ll still be.” – Rincewind’s motto (p45)

 

“Little boxes don’t eat people, sergeant.” – Captain of the Tsortean Army (p83)

 

“Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.” – Rincewind (p128)

 

Eric is Terry Pratchett’s hilarious take on the Faust legend and one of my favourite aspects of it, is that unlike the majority of Terry Pratchett’s other 40 Discworld novels, it is one of those really short, simple, amusing and easy to follow stories that you can read within a few hours.

It also contains my favourite characters: Rincewind and the Luggage, as well as brief appearances from the other wizards from Unseen University, the Librarian and even Death himself.

Coupled with, the also late, Josh Kirby’s excellent illustrations this book is a must have for all Discworld fanatics at 5 out of 5 stars.

 

See also:

Book 20: Hogfather

Book 30: The Wee Free Men

The Darkeningstone Trilogy – Michael Campling (Book Review)

Book 1: Trespass

Having been a fan of some of Michael Campling’s other books – The Colony B series, and his LitRPG collaboration with Saffron Bryant, Prison Quest – I really thought that I would enjoy this time travel and historical fantasy trilogy. However, after just reading book one, Trespass, I’m a bit disappointed. The story jumps back and forth between three different time periods, and although that doesn’t really bother me, I do feel that as a result not much of real consequence actually happens.

If I had read the free copy of Trespass that I received direct from signing up to Michael Campling’s e-mail newsletter, I would probably have stopped reading at this point, rating the first book at just 2 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, I have already purchased The Darkeningstone Trilogy Boxset, so I’m going to persevere and continue reading book two, Outcast and hope that the story improves.


Book 2: Outcast

Outcast continues the interlocking stories of Jake and Cally, which began in Trespass: Jake is lost in the forest, while Cally is working on her University Dissertation.

I found this novel more interesting than its predecessor, but I felt that the Darkeningstone played very little part in this story, which was quite disappointing. I liked the survival techniques that Jake used to keep his spirits up and his body alive while he searched for a way back home, as well as the different tribes people and their primitive ways of life.

It did enough to keep me reading, so I’d rate Outcast at 3 out of 5 stars, but the story is probably more suited to young adults than someone in their 30s. However, having come this far it seems silly not to continue on and read the last part of the trilogy, Scaderstone Pit, and I will reserve final judgement until I finish reading the entire series.


Book 3: Scaderstone Pit

As I began reading this trilogy I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy it, the premise seemed interesting – a time travel mystery – however, the constant back and forth between different time periods seemed to really slow down the pace of the book. Just as something intriguing happens, we jump to another time period with different characters and as the major action began there, we would again jump elsewhere.

I felt that despite the deeply intricate detail that went into the crafting of this story, in the earlier books not much seemed to happen, or at least not that much that felt significant. I was tempted to give up reading a couple of times early on, however bearing in mind the respect that I have for some of this author’s other books, I kept on reading.

Having persevered all the way to the end of the trilogy, all I can say is that I’m glad I kept going. The third novel, Scaderstone Pit really tied all of the elements of this story together, and every detail finally clicked into place. Unfortunately, there were a number of spelling errors and missing words which let this entire series down, and this is unusual for Michael Campling.

 

At 4 out of 5 stars, The Darkeningstone Trilogy is perfect for young adult fans of time travel. It’s not perfect but if you can stick with it all the way to the end, you may be surprised by how well each different element blends together.

 

See also:

Prison Quest: A Sci-Fi LitRPG Adventure

Colony B: Book 1 – The Wall

The Relissarium Wars: Book 8 – Prophecy by Andrew C. Broderick (ARC Review)

The Relissarium Wars Space Opera series continues in book 8, Prophecy. The remaining members of the Strike Force Retaliation team are reeling from the events at the Yasta Monastery, and suffering from shock and disbelief at a surprising revelation.

While the majority of the team are focused on a retaliation mission against the Imperial soldiers, Irane takes Theo on a secret side-trip, in a time-travelling spaceship. This enlightening journey through time reveals a terrifying prophecy of future events, shocking Theo into taking action. But when he returns to the present, will he choose to save his friends from deadly peril, or sacrifice them in order to change the future?

 

More unexpected twists are revealed in the eighth book of the Relissarium Wars series, which hook the reader even further into this amazing story. I really enjoyed the time travel sections, and the way that they were used to deepen our understanding of certain events and the characters motivations.

Due to some spelling errors my overall rating of Prophecy is only 4 out of 5 stars, but this a fantastic series that constantly leaves me craving more. I cannot wait for the next instalment.

 

I received an ARC of this book from Andrew C. Broderick and voluntarily chose to write this review.

 

See also:

Book 1 – Annihilation

Books 2-4

Book 5 – Ascent

Book 6 – Capture

Book 7 – War

Books 9-10

Book 11 – Showdown

Book 12 – Cataclysm

Four Past Midnight Collection by Stephen King – Book Review

Four Past Midnight is a collection of four different horror novellas from Stephen King.

 

  1. The Langoliers

This is by far one of my favourite Stephen King stories. It is a science fiction, horror, mystery thriller with a chillingly spooky time travel theme. You can read my full review of the Langoliers here.

 

  1. Secret Window, Secret Garden

This story of a writer accused of plagiarism is probably known better in film format, as it starred Johnny Depp. However, as a book I couldn’t really get into it, finding it rather dull, boring and predicable.

 

  1. The Library Policeman

This one held the promise of an intriguing tale to scare the kiddies into returning their library books, but it just seemed to be a never-ending story. It started well, but eventually I just couldn’t wait for the end. Far, far too long. I lost interest altogether.

 

  1. The Sun Dog

The final novella is part of the Castle Rock Series and gives me goosebumps and chills all over, with its terrifyingly realistic descriptions and paranormal events. Don’t read it in bed at night when its dark, or you’ll be apt to get nightmares. Fair warning to those faint of heart.

 

Overall, at 4 out of 5 stars this is a great collection. With my personal favourites ‘The Langoliers’ and ‘The Sun Dog’, the best picks of the four stories.

Life, the Universe and Everything (Volume 3 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

The unfortunate Arthur Dent currently finds himself living in a damp cave, stranded in Prehistoric Earth. The good news is that he’s back on his home planet, the bad news is that the next bus is not due for another two million years. Left, primary on his own, since his best friend, Ford Prefect went off and abandoned him four years earlier, Arthur is beginning to go a little crazy. Just as he finally decides to succumb to his insanity, Ford suddenly returns with surprising news; there are Eddies appearing in the space-time continuum.

These Eddies are proved to exist by the sudden appearance of a sofa in the middle of an otherwise empty field. It is due, in part, to the existence of said sofa and the Eddies in the space-time continuum, that Arthur and Ford find themselves back in London, two million years into the future and approximately two days before the demolition of the Earth – which you may remember is when Arthur and Ford originally hitched a lift on the Vogon spacecraft.

With help from an old friend, Arthur and Ford make a hasty exit from the doomed planet and embark on a journey to save the Universe.

 

Life, the Universe and Everything has a discernible plotline, which is a significant improvement when compared to its predecessor. However, it still falls short in the entertainment factor, although it has a number of rather amusing scenes. Not the best book in the series, but also nowhere near the worst at 3 out of 5 stars.

 

See also:

Vol 1 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 2 – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Vol 4 – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Vol 5 – Mostly Harmless

The Restaurant at the end of the Universe (Volume 2 in the Trilogy of Five) – Book Review

Volume 2 of Douglas Adams’ trilogy of five parts, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, begins exactly where its predecessor left off. Having fled Earth on that dreadful Thursday, just before Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council destroyed his planet to make way for a ‘possible’ Hyperspatial Express Route, Arthur Dent has become a Hitchhiker on the stolen ship The Heart of Gold.

Arthur and his space-faring friends; Ford Prefect, Trillian, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin, are heading off to the Restaurant at the end of the Universe for a spot of breakfast. Blissfully unaware that the Vogon ship, piloted by none other than Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, is following on behind them. The Vogons are under strict orders to destroy the last two survivors of the human race, Arthur and Trillian.

As the Vogon’s begin their attack on The Heart of Gold, Arthur makes a very grave mistake. In trying to teach the spaceship to make a proper cup of tea he inadvertently jams the ship’s computer, stranding The Heart of Gold in deep space, and dooming the entire crew.

I won’t go into any more details on the plot here, in an attempt to avoid any possible spoilers. However, since there are a further three books in the series beyond this one, I think it is fairly safe to point out that through a rather complicated miracle and some even more confusing time travel, breakfast is finally served at Milliways.

 

Favourite Quote:

“If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?” – (p81)

 

At 1 out of 5 stars, The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, unfortunately is nowhere near as entertaining as its predecessor. There is a distinct lack of cohesive plot, instead coming off as just a jumble of irrational events. Not even the occasionally brief appearances from Marvin the Paranoid Android, can make this novel worthwhile. I now begin to dread the contents of the remaining books.

 

See also:

Vol 1: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Vol 3: Life, the Universe and Everything

Vol 4: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Vol 5: Mostly Harmless