About romeorites

Musician and aspiring sff writer.

Willful Child by Steven Erikson: Review

Right … Where on earth do I start with this.
Ok, here goes.
Despite being warned not to start here with regards to Steven Erikson’s body of work, I liken myself to one of those characters who are told not to push a red button and then end up pushing it to see what happens. This book for me was the red button I shouldnt have pushed. But, my friends, I did.
But thats on me. Sometimes you have to make errors to learn from them.

I went into this book with a completely open mind. This homage/spoof to Star Trek and other SciFi films/tv shows, should have ticked all the boxes for me. It really didnt, and then some.

The book is supposed to represent the many adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child, but to be honest half the time I was really confused as to what was going on within the story, although I use the term “story” loosely. It was messy and all over the place. One second there is killer kittens and then something involving a large chicken, amongst other things. I get this is to represent the tv series in some ways. Each week Kirk would get himself in all sorts of trouble and it would all be ok as he would be back with his faithful crew next week. I felt it really didnt work in Wilfull Child.

I cant really talk about the characters (except for one, which I will get to) as I felt that all the characters were rather vapid and I really didnt care about any of them. They seemed to always try and challenge the chain of command because of a megalomaniac for a captain. Then we come on to the captain himself.
Wow, where do I even start with the likes of Captain Hadrian Alan Sawback?
Well, for starters he is a bloody idiot who constantly objectifies his subordinates of the opposite sex. Now, Im all for humour and spoof and I would like to consider myself not easily offended. But I really found this book so derogatory and offensive toward women, it actually stressed me out reading it, and I have never felt like that before. Ever.
But really the jokes about assualt/rape were really just vile. Even the overall constant jokes of Captian Sawback being somewhat a sex addict was tiresome from the beginning.
I reached the end and I said to my wife, “I have to put this in another room, as I really dont want to look at it anymore.” After this I felt really drained and actually quite crap in myself, I think that this was because I pushed myself to finish this book even though I would have rather done something else and perhaps it because I was mentally searching for that would redeem this one. Please dont think Im saying, “Read this and it will mess you up.” because Im not saying that Im just trying to relay how it made me feel.
I may sound like Im running this book into the ground and that ostensibly is the truth to a certain degree, but I, myself could find nothing that I liked in it whatsoever. So Im sorry for being frightfully negative. I suppose that summed up this book was just not for me. Im going to leave it at that because I really hate being negative but I also dislike being dishonest. So Im sorry if my view differs from others but Wilfull Child is not a book I could recommend, to do so would be against my truth.

Wilfull Child is out on the 6th November via Bantam Books UK and the 4th of Nov Tor/Forge US/Can

Ghoul Post by David Annandale (aka The Horror Supremo): Creeping Flesh and Meaty Themes

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Hello all, and welcome to the special Halloween Ghoul post by David Annandale.
Firstly I would like to thank David for doing this guest post, it is a terrific pleasure to have him on the moustached man’s blog. David is a very busy fellow, if he is not hunting the hordes of Chaos in the Warhammer 40K universe, he is giving lectures on the awesomeness of the cinematic galaxy to university students in the Canadian University of Manitoba. David is also a regular host on the Skiffy and Fanty podcast
He can also be found roaming the halls of the twittersphere @David_Annandale and is an overall splendid chap. So without further ado here is the man himself.

So first, a big thanks to Romeo for inviting me to be a guest on his blog. Given the season, what I’m going to do is talk about one of my favourite films to watch on Hallowe’en. I’ve been a horror fan for most of my life, so choosing one for the year’s Big Horror Night is difficult. During this season, I tend to gravitate more toward the atmospheric, the spooky and the old school, rather than the gore fest (which is not in any way to disparage the latter — if it’s been more than five minutes since I waxed enthusiastic about Martyrs, I need to rethink my life choices). Thus, Night of the Demon (1957) is a frequent contender for Hallowe’en viewing for me. In recent years, however, my go-to choice has become Freddie Francis’ The Creeping Flesh.

Some spoilers follow.

Produced by Tigon Pictures in 1973, The Creeping Flesh feels a lot like a Hammer film, what with the Victorian setting, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in the cast, and Freddie Francis behind the camera (among other Hammer films, he directed Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, though his greatest contribution to the horror film is likely as the DP for the non-Hammer The Innocents). Cushing plays a scientist who discovers a giant skeleton during his travels abroad. He comes to believe this monster was the literal embodiment of evil. Even more ominously, when exposed to water, the skeleton starts regenerating flesh.

Cushing’s wife is an inmate of Lee’s asylum. Terrified that his beloved daughter (Lorna Heilbron) will go down the same path, he injects her with a solution of the partially reformed creature’s blood, reasoning that he is inoculating her against evil. Things, as they say, Do Not Go Well.

So why do I love this film so? It has the great period atmosphere of British Gothics of that era (inaugurated in 1957 by The Curse of Frankenstein, but very much in its twilight in 1973). It has Cushing and Lee at daggers drawn, which is always entertaining. And the full manifestation of the monster is a sight to behold. But conceptually and thematically, the film is fascinating and rewards multiple viewings.

However much they are at odds, both Cushing and Lee’s characters are quintessential patriarchs, utterly convinced they belong at the top of the Great Chain of Being, and that they Know Best. And for these men, female sexuality is indistinguishable from insanity. In his desperate attempt to control his daughter’s sexuality, Cushing winds up destroying her, unleashing a damaged, violent form of the very thing he sought to repress. So not only does Evil itself have a towering physical presence in the film, but the brutal mechanisms of patriarchy are given explicit representation as well.

Furthermore, the film implies that the horrors of the twentieth century are precipitated by the evil released by Cushing. And though Evil has an external reality, its release is due to the fears and privileged beliefs of Cushing. This Gothic family drama, then, is a reminder that wars and other social cataclysms do not come out of nowhere, however much we may delude ourselves otherwise.

A cool monster. Great atmosphere. Wonderful spookiness. Icons of the field doing their thing. And, if you will forgive me, plenty of thematic meat on its bones. How could I do anything but adore The Creeping Flesh?

Thanks again David! and I hope everyone has an enjoyable Halloween.

David Annandale brings doom to untold billions as a writer of Warhammer 40,000 fiction for the Black Library, most recently in the novel Maledictus, and The Damnation of Pythos. As the author of the horror novel Gethsemane Hall, he hopes to end sleep for you forever. During the day, he poisons minds as he teaches film, video games and English literature at the University of Manitoba. If you have any fragments of hope still left, you can have them crushed at his website or by following his Twitter account.

Please check out Davids publications over at http://davidannandale.com/published-works/ and make sure to drop him a line on the twitter @David_Annandale David_Annandale_1_1_400x400 Damnation-of-Pythos

The City Stained Red (Bring Down Heaven Book 1) By Sam Sykes: Review

 

 

The City Stained Red-

 

If you are not already familiar with the “fantasy legend” that is Sam Sykes, then get thee to a book shop! I had previously read the Aeons Gate trilogy by the same author so was very pleased to hear that another series was to be expected and with the same characters.

Sam Sykes weaves a gritty, twisting and winding staircase of a story. And this novel is no exception. There are dark moments, there are moments in which there is enough destruction to rival the explosions of a Michael Bay picture, and of course all of this sprinkled with a delicious frosting of Sam Sykes humour.

                  “You can’t lie to a sword.”

But more importantly to all of this, its about the characters. And as previously mentioned, The City Stained Red sees the Lenk, Kataria, Asper, Dreadaeleon, Gariath, and Denaos tracking down the priest who owes the adventurers gold. And to do this they must enter Cier’ Djaal, the City of Silk. Oh, and do it without killing each other first.

Sam Sykes has taken a city that in theory sounds wounderful in name, but is hell in so many ways. The spiders are the main source of income to the city’s fashas and the poor are very poor. The city devours its own and spits their carcasses into the Souk. There is tension everywhere, on a knife’s edge ready to fall one way or the other, and thats just a glimpse of the Cieer’ Djaal! Oh, and to add a very dangerous weight to tip the balance, a demon by the name of Koth Khapira is trying to return, and his cultist followers are making way for his impending arrival.

“I cant imagine any God would be boring enough to want to know how everything ends.”

The story takes place completely in the confines of Cier’ Djaal and is a very engaging read.  The character POV switches keep the pacing nice and quick and this book definitely had a real nice pace to it. The timing of fight scenes and of the humour is absolutely bang-on. At times there are moments after a bloody big scrap (and I mean bloody) where all seems to be calm-ish and something particularly funny will be said. And this one thing I wanted to mention the humour from the characters is done in an incidental manner i.e no one is trying to be funny. When Gariath says something that could come across as humorous, he isnt doing it because he thinks its funny, he is doing it because he is a large, red dragonman who has little patience for humans and their conversational behaviours, and saying one thing but meaning the opposite. Now to the reader his impatience and abrutness can come across as funny in the way that he does things.

                  “Moustaches are inherently villainous.”

Sam Sykes has crafted a splendid adventure story here, and I really had times where I could not put the book down and forced myself with eyes so tired to read one more chapter, and then another. The diversity between the characters and their voices is fantastic and I noticed that my favourite character changed constantly, (right now its Gariath … Or, Kataria. Doh!) Im very much looking forward to what happens in book two, and as for The City Stained Red there are some moments that you will really not see coming and some that will leave the reader wondering how the characters are going to get through it all. Alive.

 

The City Stained Red is out now from Gollancz and you can find more about the author from his website http://www.samsykes.com also on twitter where is tweets are rather brilliant, so if you are not already following him he is @SamSykesSwears

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron – The Teaser Trailer

So here it is, and Im ridiculously excited about this. I wasnt going to blog about it but I really couldnt contain my excitement.

AWESOME!

AWESOME!

Plenty of rumours circulating the interwebs of who Andy Serkis will be playing? Also, note that The Vision (played by Paul Bettany) isnt in this trailer, so this can only mean that Marvel have a few surprises up their sleeves for us. Roll on April 2015
Make mine Marvel 🙂

The Princess and The Castle

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I really wanted to share this stunning Image of my amazing wife, Kat.

I know Iam biased, but I think this photo really is beautiful.
A real life fairytale moment, and almost something very Disney about it, not least because my wife resembles Ariel.
The castle in the background is St. Michaels Mount in Cornwall and is one of Cornwalls’ many amazing landmarks, and a very special place that fills one with inspiration.

The photo was taken by John Wood and is part of a shoot that Kat did to promote her music but due to very poor health and prolonged stays in hospital she has yet to do so. However, my wife is the strongest person I know so I know she will be bouncing back.
After all, you cant keep a warrior Princess down.

The Moustached Man talks to Edward Cox author of The Relic Guild: Interview

So this is a first for me. Edward Cox, author of the debut novel The Relic Guild agreed to do an interview with me and I never had to bribe him in cake or nothing. Its a pleasure to have Edward as my first vic- I mean Interview-ee type person.

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(Q1) Tell us a bit about the Relic Guild

Ok, I’ve been working on a pitch, here goes: At the centre of an endless labyrinth, in a city trapped behind walls one hundred feet high, young Clara is about to become the unwitting participant in the machinations of higher magic. It falls to her to reunite the last of a secret band of magickers called the Relic Guild. Together they must find a way to save one million humans from an age old menace that is about to return.

(Q2) How did the Relic Guild start forming as an idea in your head? In other words what was it about this story that made you think, “I have to write this.”

It has been a gradual process, resulting from years of hoarded ideas and inspirations. It just all seemed to come together when I hit upon the idea for a forbidden city at the centre of a gigantic labyrinth. And the book The Relic Guild became is based upon the original version that I wrote for a Master’s degree. There’s been a lot of build-up and development on this project.

(Q3) In terms of world building, the Relic Guild is vast. Is there anything that you really wanted to feature but for one reason or another couldn’t?

The worlds outside the city’s boundary walls. We hear a lot about the doorways that used to exist in the labyrinth that led to strange and mysterious Houses, but we don’t get to see them in book 1. There wasn’t room for them. However, this means that I got to play with these Houses in book 2, which will expand the universe quite considerably.

(Q4) In your Bio it states that you are a bit of David Gemmell fan. Are there any other authors that you are influenced by, and what is it about their writings that influence you?

How long would you like this list to be? There’s Michael Moorcock, who taught me to never fear my own imagination; Tad Williams, for letting a story be what it wants to be; Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman, who taught me to look at stories from different angles. There are more…so many more J

(Q5) One of your main characters is an Empath. Which I find fascinating. What was it about Empaths that made you want to feature them in your novel?

You know, this is an interesting one. We’re used to empathy being a positive thing, but I wondered what empathy would really mean to an empath, to someone who uses it as a magical ability. Truly feeling someone else’s emotions, and being able to manipulate those emotions, sort of puts you in a powerful position. It can be handy to calm dangerous situations, but what if you could also convince a person to ‘feel’ that letting someone drown, for example, was a good thing to do? It’s the scope of empathic magic that intrigues me, and gets explored more in book 2.

(Q6) The Technology in the RG is very advanced. What is your personal favourite touch of tech featured?

The spirit compass. It’s one Samuel’s favourite toys, and a handy device for a bounty hunter to have. If you feed a hair or piece of skin into the compass, then it will track the spirit of the donor. I like it because it’s a mix between tech and magic, which fits well in the world of The Relic Guild.

(Q7) Can you tell us anything about the sequel or possible sequels? And is there anything that you really want to focus on within your world that you havent done yet?

Well…exploring the worlds outside the Labyrinth, which I’ve said. We also get to see some of the war between Spiral and the Timewatcher. Being so afraid of spoilers, I don’t really want to say too much. But I will say this: all things are known in the end.

(Q8) In three words sum up the experience of writing, completing, and releasing your first novel?

Amazing. Terrifying. Joyous.

(Q9) Cake is possibly one of, if not, your most favourite edible thing. Whats your favourite and why?

Cake. Because cake.

(Q10) Can I join the Relic Guild? And is there a badge?

Of course you can join the Relic Guild. And NO! There’s no badge, Mr Silly Bear. Your identities are secret! (oh, you also have to give up everything else in your life. You still in? It’s for a good cause…)

Thanks Ed for conducting the first interview on SMOAWGMM.

The Relic Guild is available now from Gollancz and all good book shops you can follow Ed on twitter @Edwardcox10

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UPDATED: Hi everyone, I have been speaking to Ed via the twittersphere and He would personally like to thank all of yourselves for the cool, kind comments! And to let all of you lovely people know that currently there is no US release date, however, the good news is that those wonderful Gollancz folk are working on it. Yayy!!!

The Moustached Mans Reading Plans.

This might be a new feature on the blog or it might just be a whimsical flash in the pan (Oh the suspense.)
Sometimes there are a lot of books that I read that I dont actually get around to reviewing, these are mainly competition wins or books that have been sitting on my shelf and on Mount-to-be-read, which seems to grow constantly.

So this is what I have been reading lately and what I am reading now:

Extinction Game by Gary Gibson – published by Tor Uk
Extinction-Game Parallel apocalyptic worlds, some awesome twists and turns. Extinction Game is fast paced enjoyable SF read.

Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor – published by Penguin Books
9780140371741H Not an SFF novel but a heartbreaking tale of racism, family life in the American Depression, and standing up for your rights.

Dune by Frank Herbert published as part of the SF Masterworks series by Gollancz
isbn9780575081505-detail I am finally reading Dune and It really is a wonder why I havent read it before it has everything that I love in SFF.

And thats that for the minute. Soon I shall be planning to read the Honorverse books by David Weber et al and probably a re-read of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman: Review

So this is my second Gaiman novel and before reading it I really didnt know what to expect. I recieved this book on Friday and finished it Saturday night and since that time I havent been able to stop thinking about the themes and nuances that colour the plot. My mind has been racing regarding the books meaning, I know that sometimes a story is just a story but the feel of this book was telling me that this was much more. I even woke up the other morning suddenly and had a thought that it could all be an analogy for death and what happens to us when we die and the lead up to it. Although thinking on this more I am more than unsure.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane begins with a prologue which serves as statement that not all memories are lost some just need a nudge. Then we join our Narrator (who is un-named) on a journey of self discovery as we see him from the perspective of a seven year old and the opening line of the first chapter which made me feel so sad, “Nobody came to my seventh birthday party.”
We follow the narrator, who is incredibly astute for a seven year old, and see how a major part of his childhood panned out. Not to mention his relationship with the Hempstocks who live down the lane, and we see out protagonist begin his blossoming friendship with Lettie Hempstock.

Our Narrator has a fairly normal life, that is until his father’s car is stolen, and from this point it all changes. Life, childhood, and aspects of Innocence when the realisation comes that monsters do actually exist and that their is much more to this world than meets the eye. The Hempstocks almost react to our Narrator as a sort of supernatural family, and accept him into their fold with open arms at all times and offer him guidance without explanation.

It is ostensibly an elegiac and cathartic read, this is coloured with shades and subtleties that honestly make this book like none that I have ever read before. I really liked the fact that Gaiman made the Narrator and his family without names because it showed that this could have been your story as a child.
As a child believing in things is very important and this novel really shows that with zest. There is no greater joy as a child to believe in things that could be seen as otherworldly. An aspect of our childhood that perhaps we should all embrace now and again, to stir the imagination and to awaken the magic in all things that surround us on a daily basis.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane really touched me deeply and I feel that it will always have a special place for me in my heart and on my shelf.
The Ocean At The End Of Lane is a truly wonderful novel and I do look forward to whatever Gaiman does next.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is out now via Headline and you can find more about the works of Neil Gaiman here also the gentleman is on twittor @neilhimself

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2000 AD Prog 1900 – Perfect For New Readers!

Release Date: 24th September 2014 in print and digital

Published Weekly by Rebellion UK

Available from all good stockists

Next week sees the perfect opportunity to pick up 2000AD for the first time or if you have read it before and forgot about it, now is the time to return to the Galaxies greatest comic.
Prog 1900 has three new story arcs and is great for new readers to be introduced to the fantastic worlds of 2000AD

COVER 1900It features:

Judge Dredd – Block Judge  by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra 

Stickleback – The Thru’penny Opera by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli

Kingdom – Aux Drift by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson

It really is another important milestone for 2000AD. The fantastic cover is by Greg Staples and the new logo by lead 2000 AD designer, Pye Parr.

For me Stickleback is always a pleasure to read especially with D’Israeli’s fantastic artwork  and the character really has become one of my favourites from the vast array that 2000AD have. This will be the new readers chance to get in touch with some of the fantastic strips and the characters that feature in them. This is a mere taste of some of the wonders that 2000AD will have in store.

 

The Relic Guild by Edward Cox: Review

A great evil, a vast town in a strange world, a changeling, and a rather cool bounty hunter.
mixed all together these create some of the elements that are part of the The Relic Guild. The reader will notice that when you read this book, the featured complicated architectural and world building constructs make you feel a part of Labrys Town and as the pages turn one can see how these all function in Edward Cox’s vast and expanse universe.
Now, I love a maze. And reading The Relic Guild is like walking through a super cool maze. Discovering hidden passages, finding dead ends, not knowing where on earth you are going to end up, and then being chased by Jack Nicholson. Except that The Relic Guild doesnt have Jack Nicholson chasing people through Labrys Town (Although we can but hope for such in the sequel. Fingers crossed.)
In all seriousness Cox has created a superb maze-like and labyrinthian novel.

The reader will discover the world and its intricate inner workings through the eyes of some very interesting characters. Marney the empath, Old Man Sam the bounty hunter, and Peppercorn Clara a prostitute who can also change into a wolf. These three characters we meet at the start of the novel as well as the Illusionist Van Bam who is the Resident of the Timewatcher’s construct ‘The Nightshade’ which is a source of fear amongst the residents- or denizens as they are referred as in the story. The Timewatcher is the creator of magic and pure magic is wielded by the Thaumaturgists who are the most loyal subjects to the Timewatcher. The Timewatcher and her subjects were caught up in a war forty years ago with the Genii who are renegade Thaumaturgists and believe themselves to be the ones who should be calling the shots in the world.
The story takes place forty years on from the Genii War and then a series of flashbacks takes us back to see some of the characters overcome the trials of love and war. Also Old Man Sam is not so old.

The flashbacks are really written and give the reader a deeper understanding of the characters and the Labyrinth and how Labrys Town worked in the past and the comparisons that are drawn but with the focus being our main characters, as they are the magickers keeping everything safe or at least trying to. The book ends with the flashback guild and the current guild both in dangerous situations and leaves a very tasty cliffhanger.
With an ever-looming threat re-emerging the Relic Guild really do have their work cut out for them.

The Relic Guild leaves questions that will hopefully be answered in the sequel/s and there is one character I would really like to have seen more of.
Summed up The Relic Guild is like a twisting, looping, and flipping ride of a cosmic roller-wonder coaster and who knows where the author is going to take us in future books. I found that there was touches of an almost 2000AD influence with The Retrospective (a dangerous no mans land outside the labyrinth) being a kind of Cursed Earth and the novel did, at times, have a Doctor Who feel to it. See what you think.

The Relic Guild is out today (18th sept 2014) and is available from Gollancz Edward Cox is also on twitter @EdwardCox10 and keep an eye out on the blog for an upcoming interview with the author himself.the-relic-guide-cover1