Book Review – The 39 Steps

Sometimes context is everything. In his own introduction Buchan explained that he was trying to write a ‘shocker’, a book that pushes the readers suspension of disbelief to its furthest extreme. The Thirty Nine Steps is meant to be a cheap thriller, but it is so much more than that.

The book is set in Britain just before the start of WW1 and is entirely told from the point of view of Richard Hannay, a gentleman adventurer who has returned after ‘making his pile’ abroad. At the start of the book he is bored and dissatisfied with his leisurely life in London, but a chance meeting with an American leads Hannay into a web of intrigue.

I’m not saying it is a literary masterpiece, but I thought it was a great read. I wanted to read it as Buchan described it, so I read it quickly, without over-thinking it and as a result I was plunged into Hannay’s world and shared his adventures. And a fine set of adventures they are too. Hannah makes a great protagonist, a very British stranger in a strange land. He is the outsider who is driven by a thirst for action and a desire to save his country.

You could argue that The Thirty Nine Steps is the first modern spy novel. Certainly as you read it there are many recognisable features of classic spy thrillers, but in The Thirty Nine Steps they appeared for the first time. I could recommend you read this book for historical reasons, or for the fact that it was so influential, but actually you should just read it for the pure enjoyment.

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Book Review – The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

I’m not a Stephen King fan, which is not to say that I don’t rate him or anything, I just never read any of his books. I’ve always thought of him as a writer of horror stories and that’s not my sort of stuff. But then I was at work and someone was googling a top 100 books you should read sort of thing, and one of the hits was the top 100 fantasy books. That caught my attention so I asked them to pull it up and there was The Dark Tower series in the top ten.

And this made me think, because I’m really into fantasy and yet I’d never heard of it, let alone read it. A week or so later I was in Waterstones with a bit of cash in my pocket and they had a big display of the Dark Tower books and a ‘Buy one, get one half price’ deal. So I bought the first two.

I was quite excited about it. I get that when I find a series I haven’t read, because there are all these books that I can lose myself in, a whole new set of adventures to go on. I love the escapism and when I read I am totally in the fictional world. That’s if it is a good book.

And there’s the worry, because I get nervous too. What if it’s not as good as I’d hoped? Is that weird? To be nervous about starting a book? Do you ever get that?

I shouldn’t have worried because from line one I was hooked. It’s not what I would call classic fantasy, it feels more post apocalyptic than anything and then you’ve got modern technology (i.e. guns) but who cares? I’ve never bothered much about genre distinctions anyway, I think genres are invented by booksellers, writers just write. Either way I loved the book, especially the time shifting between the protagonist’s past and present. King presents theses as two very different worlds, with the present feeling like a Clint Eastwood western and the past portrayed as a more classic fantasy setting. The protagonists memories have the feeling of dreams, his present is a waking nightmare. It is beautifully done.

It’s a great book and if you haven’t read it you really should. I’ve got the second in the series my my bed ready to read.

Book Review – Faithless by Graham Austin-King

The temples of the Forgefather have fallen. The clerics and defenders that could once be found across the nine lands are no more. Priests huddle in the great temple, clinging to the echoes of their lost religion. But the Father has fallen silent. There are none who still hear his voice.

The mines of Aspiration lie far below the temple’s marble halls. Slaves toil in the blackness, striving to earn their way into the church and the light. Wynn has been sold into this fate, traded for a handful of silver. In the depths of the mines, where none dare carry flame, he must meet his tally or die. But there are things that lurk in that darkness, and still darker things within the hearts of men.

Faithless is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in 2017, which considering I’ve read The Dark Tower and Legend is some statement. I first came across the book in a less than complimentary review I read on Facebook. I commented that the review actually made me want buy the book, and then decided to act on my words and buy it. I’m glad I did.

It’s a dark story, both figuratively and literally. I don’t want to give too much away but for me one of the things that made Faithless stand out is the setting. The whole book is set in a tight geographical area covering a temple, an underground city and series of mines. There are a few moments of natural light but most of the book is set in darkness and it makes for a wonderfully claustrophobic feel. This is one book where the setting is almost the main character in the story, (I always like books like this, one of my favourites is The Hound of the Baskervilles), and here the setting influences and pervades everything. It is a great example of imaginative and thoughtful world building, and must have taken some doing.

Faithless is well written and well constructed, with twists and surprises and a great ending. It’s also a little creepy, occasionally scary and not a little disturbing in parts. If you are looking for something a bit different in your fantasy then this is for you.

Book Review – A Very British Ending by Edward Wilson

a very british

I don’t give writing advice, but if I did I would encourage people to read widely and often. It’s often said you should read within your genre, but I think its just as important to read outside of it. It gives you a sense of perspective, as well as exposing you to a greater range of ideas and influences. I write Fantasy and some Science Fiction, so at the moment I am alternating reading Fantasy books with books in a different genre.

Which is one of the reasons I picked up A Very British Ending in Waterstones. I’ve always liked Spy books, and there have been periods of my life when I read them a lot. I’m a particular fan of John Le Carre and Len Deighton, and Wilson’s book seemed to be in the same vein so I stumped up my eight quid and gave it a go.

I’m glad I did. It’s a very good book, well researched and well written, with a scope that covers the period of time from the end of WW2 to the 1980s. The main character is William Catesby, an unlikely member of the establishment Secret Service, who finds himself defending British democracy from the very people he works for. The plot covers a period of paranoia and conspiracy with the search for KGB moles and the sinister influence of the CIA turning MI5 and MI6 on themselves and their own government. I don’t know if there ever was a plot for a military coup aimed at the Harold Wilson Labour governments of the 60s and 70s, but it’s a theory I’ve heard before. This book is a work of fiction but it is very plausible.

Strangely, it wasn’t until I finished that I realised there were previous books in the series, to me it read well as a stand alone. I’m definitely going to read the others.

 

We’ve been having a makeover!

twitter post GOW avaialble now

Welcome to the reincarnated blog!

Yep I’ve had the decorators in, and the blog is now all freshened up and in line with my other social media.

You can probably see that there are new book covers as well and with the first two books out, and the third coming out very soon, the Song of Amhar series is really coming together.

I’ve saved the best news until last. You can get the first book FREE by clicking here:

Get my FREE book

Super Book Giveaway Day 2

 

The giveaway is going really well! TPOS is up to no. 3 in its category on Amazon.

image

Please share this post on twitter, your blog, or any social media.

Fancy starting a new fantasy series? Are you a fan of the classic quest stories of traditional heroic fantasy? Do you like free books?

From today you can download The Path Of Swords for free from Amazon.  Plus I’m doing a special offer so if you get TPOS you can get the next book in the series free as well. It’s like a buy one, get one free, where you don’t have to buy the first one. Plus with the second book coming out next week, there’s never been a better time.

Just click here:

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LBJNTC        for the UK

www.amazon.com/dp/B071LBJNTC           for the US

www.amazon.com.au/dp/B071LBJNTC          for Australia (big shout out to those Australians who have bought it already!)

www.amazon.ca/dp/B071LBJNTC                for Canada (just got a great review from a Canadian fan – thanks!)

www.amazon.de/dp/B071LBJNTC                for Germany (sold one there as well. Thanks!)

www.amazon.in/dp/B071LBJNTC                 love to sell some in India

www.amazon.fr/dp/B071LBJNTC              for France (sold one there as well. Thanks!)

If you haven’t got a kindle you can also download a kindle app from the same page that will work on any device.

Share the links with anyone you think would like it.

Super Book Giveaway Returns!

 

image

Please share this post on twitter, your blog, or any social media.

Fancy starting a new fantasy series? Are you a fan of the classic quest stories of traditional heroic fantasy? Do you like free books?

From today you can download The Path Of Swords for free from Amazon.  Plus I’m doing a special offer so if you get TPOS you can get the next book in the series free as well. It’s like a buy one, get one free, where you don’t have to buy the first one. Plus with the second book coming out next week, there’s never been a better time.

Just click here:

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071LBJNTC        for the UK

www.amazon.com/dp/B071LBJNTC           for the US

www.amazon.com.au/dp/B071LBJNTC          for Australia (big shout out to those Australians who have bought it already!)

www.amazon.ca/dp/B071LBJNTC                for Canada (just got a great review from a Canadian fan – thanks!)

www.amazon.de/dp/B071LBJNTC                for Germany (sold one there as well. Thanks!)

www.amazon.in/dp/B071LBJNTC                 love to sell some in India

www.amazon.fr/dp/B071LBJNTC              for France (sold one there as well. Thanks!)

If you haven’t got a kindle you can also download a kindle app from the same page that will work on any device.

Share the links with anyone you think would like it.