Tuesday 7 June 2011

Book Reviews

Raven: Sons of Thunder
Giles Kristian

Available Now - £6.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

If you betray a Fellowship you are a dead man, and Ealdorman Ealdred of Wessex has betrayed Sigurd and his Wolfpack. With revenge on their minds, Raven and friends plough the sea road in pursuit of the traitor Ealdred. Having left the Fellowship for dead, the ealdorman has sailed in search of the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne and the promise of riches beyond his imagining. In following Ealdred, Raven and his sword-brothers find themselves in the heart of a Christian empire that would wipe their kind from the face of the earth. And danger waits round every bend of the great river up which they travel - Sigurd will fight for his life while Raven will be betrayed, imprisoned and left to rot...

Told from the perspective of Raven, the youngest of the Viking warriors, this sequel to Raven: Blood-Eye carries on straight from where the first book left off, and it sets a relentless pace from the start. In fact, the action only really holds off in these books for a bit of bonking.

The characters are developed really well in this novel, especially the snivelling Ealdred and bold leader Sigurd. The Wolfpack have to learn to fight with their brains as well as their weapons in this novel, and it makes for a very interesting read. If you’re into historical fiction, or even if you just like to crank up the Turisas every now and again, Raven: Sons of Thunder is a great read...although you do definitely need to have read the original first. There’s not even a recap for people (like me) who read the original when it first came out, and may find their memory a little hazy for the first fifty pages or so.

Simply put, if you’re a fan already, this is everything that you could possibly have wanted from a sequel to Raven: Blood Eye. If not...you’ll want to get on board.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequent, gory, realistic violence, including detailed description of injuries sustained.
Sex/Nudity: Infrequent, but strong.
Swearing: Frequent and strong.
Summary: A great historical fiction novel that delivers exactly what you want from a sequel to Raven: Blood Eye. Meaty, meady...Hell you could do a lot worse than making the Raven novels your summer holiday reading this year! 9/10
Warhammer 40,000 – Savage Scars: A White Scars Novel
Andy Hoare
Black Library/Games Workshop

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

Dal'yth. The forces of the Greater Good have established a strangehold on the planet, and the time has come for the Imperium to move against them. The White Scars lead the ground assault against the tau, launching into combat with speed and fury, shedding blood as they gain ground against their enemies. Meanwhile, the members of the Crusade Council are determined to pursue their own agendas, and their politicking and back-stabbing will place the entire war effort in jeopardy. But little do they know that Inquisitor Grand has more extreme measures in mind, and the White Scars must achieve victory quickly or the cost to Dal'yth will be devastating.

Savage Scars may be the most action-packed of all the Warhammer 40,000 novels that I have encountered. There’s gun-battle after gun-battle after melee after explosion. If you want action, then this is the place for you. It’s fantastically well-written too, with some great descriptive passages, juxtaposed with some crushingly brutal death scenes. What’s more, you get to see the Titans go to war in this one, and that’s some that, frankly, doesn’t happen enough in these books.

Unfortunately, this dedication to non-stop action is both its blessing and its curse. The story is so formulaic that anyone who’s read a handful of Warhammer 40,000 novels prior to this will be able to predict how it’s all going to end long before the 100 page mark. The plot is desperately tired and formulaic, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s time for a bit of a shake-up at Black Library, to bring some new ideas in.

If you want a quick, brainless, bolt-gun loaded read, then this is worth picking up; or if you want a good representation of the bulk of the canon, then this is a good example to pick up. If you’re a fan already, though...then there’s nothing here that you don’t already own, with the heads swapped around.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Oh, my, yes. Gunfire, explosions, Space Marine Dreadnoughts being involved in close combat, Titan warfare, knife combat, unarmed combat, extreme blood and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Partial female nudity.
Swearing: None.
Summary: The individual scenes are enjoyable, but it all gets a little samey by the end. Cramming the entire plot into the last fifty pages doesn’t exactly help, either. 5/10
Mercy Burns
Keri Arthur
Little, Brown

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Half dragon, half woman, can she save her friend's soul - without losing her heart? Mercy Wilson is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area, but she's also more - and less - than human. Half woman, half air dragon, she's a 'draman' - unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy. Now something will put her powers to the test. Mercy's friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister's murder. Then a horrible accident claims Rainey's life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer. If Mercy fails, according to dragon law, Rainey's soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity. But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target? With nowhere else to turn, she must join forces with a sexy stranger - the mysterious man they call 'Muerte', or death itself, who's as irresistible as he is treacherous. But can even Death keep Mercy alive for long enough to find her answers?

Now, I would never claim that this book is a masterpiece and change my perspective on all paranormal novels, but I can say that I found it as addictive as Cadbury’s Nibbles (normally one would say “crack” at this point in the sentence, however, as I have yet to try crack, I have to use an alternative yet very addictive substance to substitute it with). I liked the idea of human/dragon shape-shifters (mainly because when I grow up I want to be one), the outline of the story was compelling and the characters were well fleshed out.

The only thing that really bothered me was the rushed ending; we have seen the two protagonists who are feisty and independent and their love/hate relationship develop and the ending does not do justice to the internal conflict that has been so evident throughout the earlier parts of the novel. It would have been nice to have had a couple more chapters to really flesh out the final part of the book.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Frequently referred to, however, it is about a PG13 in execution.
Sex/Nudity: Plenty, knobbing is a favourite pass-time of this novel...I’m not complaining though!
Swearing: Moderate.
Summary: A great easy read, something light that can whet the pallet and ridiculously addictive to read. 7/10


This classic World War II drama stars John Mills as an ambulance driver who escapes the siege of Tobruk in the company of a sergeant major, a nurse and a South African officer who has become separated from his unit. Suspicions arise about whether one of the group is a German spy who is undermining their attempt to reach safety. The film is most famous for its scene in which Captain Anson (Mills) finally gets to drink his 'ice cold' beer in Alexandria.

Thanks to our friends at Optimum Releasing, we've got three copies of Ice Cold in Alex on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Tuesday 14th June, making sure to put "Ice Cold in Alex" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Ice Cold in Alex" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Ice Cold in Alex is available from Monday 13th June.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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