logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: gmb-steampunk
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-06-15 18:32
Danger & Romance: The Hidden Masters of Marandur | Review + Author Interview
The Hidden Masters of Marandur: The Pillars of Reality, Book 2 - Jack Campbell,MacLeod Andrews,Audible Studios

Mari & Alain's second adventure continues the genre-blending fun with dragons, rocket launchers, and more friends.

 

"Someone wants to kill Mari, a young steam mechanic in the guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization and that mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young mage who has learned that mechanics are not frauds, as his guild teaches, and that mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

 

Narrowly escaping death, the mechanic and the mage stay alive thanks to their combined skills, an alliance never before seen. But it becomes clear that both of their guilds, the most powerful forces in the world, are trying to destroy them. Other powers, like the great empire and a mysterious secret order, also seek to kill or capture them using every weapon from imperial legions to mage-created trolls, dragons, and rocs."

 

Whispersync Deal Alert*: Kindle + Audible = $7.48.

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Hidden Masters of Marandur by Jack Campbell, read by MacLeod Andrews, published by Audible Studios (2015) / Length: 12 hrs 54 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #2 of 4 (so far) in "The Pillars of Reality" series. Books #5 & #6 will be released at Audible on 7/1 & 8/1/16 respectively, which will complete the series. Other formats will be released approximately 90 days afterwards.

 

**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**

 

SUMMARY:

I just finished reading Book #4, and this is still my current favorite series. I will repeat what I said in my review of the first book, "forget this review, just go read the book."

 

CHARACTERS:

Mari: At the end of the last book, she decided that she would change the entire world if necessary in order to make it right and allow her to be with Alain. In this book she is trying to gather more information on how the world got to be the way it is, since she believes is doing research before taking on a problem. She is also grappling with the effects her abandonment issues have on her relationship with Alain.

 

Alain: He begins this book struggling to deal with the loneliness he now feels after having had Mari to talk to previously. Once they are reunited he has to juggle his determination to protect The Daughter and his own efforts to become truly human again.

 

Mari & Alain: At the end of the last book, Mari told Alain that she loved him, and he answered "Yes" when she asked if he had feelings for her (he really struggles to express love, since Mages were severely punished for such behavior). The relationship continues to grow in this book in a, mostly, healthy and satisfying manner. Mari does display some serious jealousy that has proved irritating to many readers. It didn't bother me, because she recognized her feelings and tried to deal with them.

 

I have seen complaints about how Mari is the one who controls their physical relationship. I think that it is absolutely every individuals right to set their own limits. Since, in this relationship, she is the one who wants to "wait" then she is the one choosing where the limits are. Now it is true that she does so in her usual bossy manner, which is what I think they were bothered by, since it might seem like she is telling him what he has to do.  But Alain has proven himself more than capable of speaking up if he doesn't agree.

 

This is the book where we begin to truly introduce some of the wonderful supporting characters that inhabit this world. Important ones include: General Flyn, who I liked despite my concerns expressed below. / Calu, a mechanic friend of Mari's who was briefly mentioned in the first book and whose interest in Theoretical Physics brings out some very intriguing connections between science and the mages magic. / Mage Asha, an extremely beautiful former fellow acolyte of Alain's / Professor S'san, the one who pushed Mari hard so she would reach Master Mechanic status before the rules were changed to set a minimum age. / Mechanic Alli, Mari's best friend and a favorite of mine, is mentioned again.

 

WORLDBUILDING & PLOT:

In the first book, Alain & Mari were always in the same place even when they were not always together.  However at the end of that book they each came to the conclusion that the only way to protect the other was to separate, since being seen together could get them killed by either guild. This book starts out with them halfway across the world from each other.

 

Note: The parts with Mari alone are never my favorite parts. Not because of her; but because, for some reason, I dislike the Senior Mechanics more than the Mage Elders.

 

The majority of the book is spent in the territory of The Empire, the largest political power in the world. Their aggression is held in check only by the Guilds, who don't want anyone challenging their control. They are very organized and orderly and have many of the same public institutions as we do, but they are also very controlling.

 

Trains are officially becoming "a thing." In the first book, she convinced Alain to travel on one and they almost crash due to a sabotaged bridge. Despite his reluctance, they again choose to travel on a train and meet with an adventure.

 

We get to meet another dragon and a Roc (giant bird), and Mari uses some seriously cool ordinance.

 

The book ends with some hope that they may finally learn something about their world and how it became so screwed up.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

  • Alain really needs to learn "social skills."

Mari shifted position, grimacing. "Blazes, my butt hurts. I think horses were designed as instruments of torture. And my thighs. You can't imagine how my thighs feel."

 

"I have tried to imagine how they feel," Alain offered.

 

Mari stared back at him blankly for a moment, then broke into laughter. "Alain, you don't just say something like that to a girl. Everybody knows men are thinking it, but they're not supposed to say it."

  • Mari's recognition that they haven't really known each other that long, and are in mortal danger, so maybe now isn't the time to make big decisions about their future.

 

  • A scene in which Mari is traumatized & despairing and unable to make good choices for herself, and so Alain makes the choice he knows is consistent with her true desires.

 

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT:

I have serious doubts about the morality of the raids being conducted by General Flyn and his soldiers (i.e. I think they are immoral). The rationale is that they keep their soldiers practiced and their enemy off balance. But, even with their no-kill policy, it is not really the enemy government that suffers. The border farmers are the ones that have to deal with the losses.

 

I also have concerns about books in which characters regularly "sleep together" when they want, and plan, to not have sex yet. It is made clear in this particular book that Mari doesn't do that until she is confident in their self-control, but waiting is important to her and I personally think that it's unwise to promote the idea that such a practice isn't likely to lead to unplanned activities.


OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: Throughout this series, it is made clear that most Mages & Mechanics don’t concern themselves with “consent” when it come to physical relations with Commons. We don’t get any details of particular incidents though, and neither of our main characters is comfortable with the practice. (repeated from the first review)

 

NARRATION:

Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Accents good = Yes. He actually does a really good job with this, since he has to invent accents for people from different fictional regions. / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good. Like the 1st book, he does well with both the emotional Mari and the "just learning to express some emotions, but mostly flat" Alain / Speed = Good, was able to listen on normal speed rather than my usual 1.25.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Hidden Masters of Marandur (Pillars of Reality #2) by Jack Campbell, read by MacLeod Andrews, published by Audible Studios (2015) / Length: 12 hrs 54 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • Can you recommend some other books where the characters take their time getting to know each other across more than one book?
  • Do you accept certain behaviors in books that you would never accept in the real world?
  • Do you prefer to read books that stick to one audience or genre, or do you thinks books should be rule free? (See the author's thought's below)

--

  • If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?
  • I recently debuted my redesigned blog. What do you think?

Got My Book Signature


RELATED POSTS:

By Author

The Dragons of Dorcastle

The Dragons of Dorcastle

[Review + Author Ivu]

By Narrator

Steelheart

Steelheart

[Review]

★★★★

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial

[Review]

★★★★

Nice Dragons Finish Last

Nice Dragons Finish Last

[Review + Narrator Ivu]

 

Bonus Author Interview (Part 2)

 

Tell us something about your lead characters that we don't already know.

I can't!  Spoilers!

Has becoming a "YA" author changed anything for you?

I've always tried to write stories that work for most ages.  I never target adult or YA, I just try to tell the story in a way that is entertaining for as many people as possible.  Andre Norton remains one of my favorite authors, and that was how she would write.  YA as a marketing category isn't that old, after all, and a lot of what is now considered YA were once regarded as adult novels.  Mainly, though, I don't want to have to force my story to conform to arbitrary "rules" about what YA can and can't have and what adult novels can and can't have.  I don't think readers of any ages are looking for rules about what their stories are allowed to have, rules that try to fence in imagination and adventure and characters who usually want to break rules.  If Schrödinger's cat can be different things at the same time, why can't books? 

What is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

There isn't any one hardest thing.  About two hundred years ago Clausewitz wrote "Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult."  I think that actually applies to anything.  As in this case, everything is very simple about writing, but the simplest thing is difficult.  All you need is an idea!  Simple.  But getting the right idea is difficult, and figuring out how to use it is difficult.  Then you write the novel!  Simple.  But sitting down every day and keeping the story interesting and focused and getting past blocks and all the rest is difficult.

 

I spent more than a decade wanting to try to do a "long retreat" series in space, something like the classic March of the 10,000 by Xenophon, but I couldn't think of a good way to do it.  I spent nearly as long trying to think of a story to go with a modern version of the "sleeping hero" myth (like King Arthur) that is common in many cultures, wanting to explore how a real person who had become the subject of such a myth would handle it if they awoke to find themselves expected to live up to that myth.  One day it finally occurred to me that I could combine those two ideas into one story, and that they would fit together perfectly.  That became the core of my most successful book to date - Dauntless.  Simple!  Easy!  And it took me over ten years to figure it out.  Hard!

 

Everything about writing is easy, but the easy stuff is the hardest to do. 

For more information: http://www.jack-campbell.com/

 


Share/Save Post:

(If you don’t see anything in this section, your browser may be blocking share buttons)

 

Join me on my Audiobook Journey?

Amazon | Audible | Bloglovin' | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | RSS | Twitter

 

Never Miss a Post

Delivered by FeedBurner


This review will be linked up with the following (hover for descriptions):

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-05-18 17:00
Campbell Nails YA: The Dragons of Dorcastle | Review + Author Interview
The Dragons of Dorcastle: The Pillars of Reality, Book 1 - Jack Campbell,MacLeod Andrews,Audible Studios

A YA Dystopian Steampunk Fantasy SciFi Action-Adventure Romance that never loses focus despite its genre bending.

 

The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of Dematr behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Whispersync Deal Alert: Kindle + Audible = $5.26 (must purchase Kindle first, prices may change)

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible.

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell, read by MacLeod Andrews, published by Audible Studios (2014) / Length: 11 hrs 27 min

 

SERIES INFO:

This is Book #1 of 4 (so far) in “The Pillars of Reality” series. According to the author, “I just had confirmed by Audible the new release date for Pillars Of Reality book five, The Servants of the Storm. It has been moved back a little to 1 July. That's the slightly bad part. The really good part is that Audible is really moving up the release of the sixth and last book in the series, The Wrath of the Great Guilds. That will now be released on 1 August, just a month later!”

 

SUMMARY:

I usually have trouble identifying a favorite book among so many, but I have no trouble stating that this is currently my favorite series! I love it so much that I would fill this review with lots of gifs of excited people... if I didn't dislike gif reviews so much.  I've read about other reviewers who have trouble putting their feelings into words for their favorite books, so I know that I am not alone in wanting to say, "forget this review, just go read the book."

 

One of the things I love about these books is the very mature way Mari tries to deal with what is developing between her and Alain and his adorable cluelessness. (Although, I don't mind her jealousy in later books, since it shows that even mature & rational people can be human; and she is still a teenager.) I love characters who think, and Mari definitely has Second Thoughts and starts developing Third Thoughts as well.

“First Thoughts are the everyday thoughts. Everyone has those. Second Thoughts are the thoughts you think about the way you think. People who enjoy thinking have those. Third Thoughts are thoughts that watch the world and think all by themselves. They’re rare, and often troublesome." ~Sir Terry Pratchett

Plus it's a rolicking good adventure with bandits, battle magic, corruption, kidnappings, and even a dragon (but, despite the title, you don't get that until the very end).

 

Note: I only give 5 star reviews here on my blog to books that have stood the test of time. Although this book isn't very old, it has remained a favorite through 3 (or maybe 4?) complete listens and many "favorite parts" listens.

 

Also Note: Normally I divide my reviews into Character, Worldbuilding & Plot (it helps me organize my thoughts). It proved impossible in this case, however. This series is a perfect example how, in great books, none of these things is separate from each other. The story really is driven by who the characters are and even where they find themselves. So I will be mixing sections.

 

CHARACTERS & WORLDBUILDING:

Mages & Magic: Mages believe that "nothing is real," that the world is an illusion, and if you are strong and detached enough from illusion you can use your mind to temporarily change it. They build "strength" and inculcate detachment through cruelty and absolute suppression of emotions. They regard other people as shadows who also aren't real and don't matter. Magic is limited by both the mages' personal strength and by the amount of ambient power that can be drawn from their current surroundings.

 

Alain: Possibly the youngest to ever become a full mage (at only 17). He struggles with his hidden emotions, especially the feelings he still has for his parents who taught him good principles in his youth. He is a good match for Mari, as he likes to learn and think and understand. His abilities have led to him being trained as a combat mage. (One of the things I like is that not every mage can perform every kind of spell. Alain is very good, but there are things he can't do.)

 

Mechanics & Technology: The Mechanics have a monopoly on all knowledge of science and engineering in the world. The technology is not improving though, as they currently forbid all "innovation." Although they know that non-mechanics are real, they see them as inferior and to be kept in their place.

 

Mari: The youngest ever to become a Master Mechanic (at 18), she earned her mechanic status as a steam expert and her master status as one of the very rare computer experts (although their computers are very primitive). She is bold, brash, and more than a bit bossy (although she sometimes resents that people often look to her for leadership); but most of all, she is determined to try and always do the "right" thing.

 

Alain & Mari: This relationship has been a breath of fresh air after so many others based seemingly on physical attraction alone. Although there is attraction, it is touched very lightly upon in this first book. They each have legitimate reasons for the desire they begin to feel to just be with the other person (although Alain is very confused about it all). It is also wonderful to have a relationship in which, after the initial hostility caused by the hatred between their guilds, they support and try to treat each other well. And note: contrary to the norm, she's a bit older than he is.

 

Another thing I love about this series is all the great supporting characters, even people you meet just briefly are intriguing. This first book, however, focuses more on Alain & Mari, alone & together, as we get to know them. I think my favorite side character is the unnamed Mage Elder who helps Alain understand his prophetic vision and charges him with protecting “The Daughter.”

 

WORLDBUILDING & PLOT:

The book begins in "The Wastes." It is hot & unpleasant, even for a mage who isn't supposed to notice such things. The first part of the books takes place here, as Alain and Mari pit themselves against it in an effort to survive. It is while attempting to escape the physical desert that Alain begins to, unknowingly, escape from the desert his training has made of his life.

 

It ends in Dorcastle, after passing through the extremely pretentious and unpleasant city of Ringmon. Dorcastle seems to be a nice place, although (as stated in the title) it is currently being plagued by "dragons." Indications are that we might return there in a later book.

 

I wouldn't call the ending a cliffhanger; it doesn't end in the middle of something. It doesn't resolve much though.

 

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:

This whole review has been one long highlights section, so I will just include a couple of quotes.

"She was intelligent, resourceful, and steadfast…she saved my life. She asked my advice and listened to it. Somehow she has caused me to remember things that I should not." ~Alain

“You have the perfect chance to say ‘I told you so,’ but instead you find a way to say I was right, too. What’s the matter with you, Alain? You listen to me, you believe in me, you respect me and you care about me. You’re honest and smart and brave and resourceful. You never ask for anything for yourself and you’re always there when I need you. Where are your flaws? You were supposed to have flaws. Do you have to be perfect?" ~Mari

CAUTIONS: Throughout this series, it is made clear that most Mages & Mechanics don’t concern themselves with “consent” when it come to physical relations with Commons. We don’t get any details of particular incidents though, and neither of our main characters is comfortable with the practice.

 

NARRATION:

He did a good job of capturing the tone of the book and a great job at both emoting and not emoting (i.e. sounding flat when a mage is speaking). The female voices are not terribly "feminine," but there is good distinction between characters. I did hear 1 or 2 mispronunciations. The speed was good, I was able to listen on normal speed (instead of my usual 1.25).

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Dragons of Dorcastle (Pillars of Reality #1) by Jack Campbell, read by MacLeod Andrews, published by Audible Studios (2014) / Length: 11 hrs 27 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • I haven't had a lot of success with Steampunk in the past. What is your favorite steampunk book/series?
  • What constitutes a 5 star book for you?
  • What do you think equals a healthy relationship?

--

  • If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?
  • I recently debuted my redesigned blog. What do you think?

Got My Book Signature


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

★★★★½

The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor

[Review + Narrator Ivu]

★★★★

Henchgirl

Henchgirl

[Review + Author Ivu]

★★★★½

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

[Review + Author Ivu]

★★★★½

The Map to Everywhere

The Map to Everywhere

[Review + Narrator Ivu]

 

Bonus Author Interview (Pt 1)

(scroll down for more)

 

How did you choose/come up with your lead characters names?

I didn't. They told me their names. Mari has always been Mari, and Alain always Alain.

 

That's true of most of the other characters in the series as well. Where did Calu get his name? He's never told me. Asha has always been Asha. Even the Dark One, Mara the Undying, showed up name and all.

 

When a character doesn't tell me their name upfront, I often browse through lists of names for different nationalities to see if any feel right. Which country I look in is sort of random, and if I don't find something that feels right I try another. But usually something leads me to the right list where a good name can be found. Mage Alera for example. Her name sounds almost Elf-like, but is actually Nigerian, from the Ogoni. Why did I look at Nigerian names first? I have no idea. But as soon as I saw Alera, I knew it was her name.

What motivated you to sit down and write your first book?

I read a lot of books, and loved the stories in them, both the real stories in history and the made-up ones in fiction. (After a while I learned that some of the stories in history are made up and some of the fiction is more real than non-fiction.) I was coming up on the end of my time in the US Navy, which hadn't left room for writing, so I decided to finally give it a serious try. I thought I had stories that people would like to read, different ways of approaching old ideas and maybe some new ideas as well. Anyone who writes has to start out at least a little delusional, because based solely on our hope and belief that other people will want to read our tales we sit down and start trying to turn ideas into stories. I began with short stories, but soon enough two of those stories sharing the same lead characters combined and grew, so I can honestly say that first novel wasn't really planned. (Unfortunately, anyone reading it could tell.)

How long did it take you to write this book?

Usually a book takes me about six months to a year. But in the case of The Dragons of Dorcastle, it was the first book I wrote, which grew out of two shorter stories that I linked and then expanded. Being my first attempt at a novel it was…let's just say it needed a lot of work, but at the time I couldn't tell since I didn't have enough experience with writing.

 

Eventually I figured out that the book had big issues, but I wasn't sure what to do and so set it aside while I worked on other projects. But I kept thinking about it, and wondering what to do with it. About ten years later, I finally realized how to start fixing The Dragons of Dorcastle. By then I had several other books published and had learned a lot more about storytelling. Using my memory of the plot, I completely rewrote the book rather than trying to fix it sentence by sentence. Then there were some more changes needed.

 

And publishers kept rejecting it, because it was different (different from what I had published before, so even though I had a good track record as an author they were wanting me to keep writing the same thing, and different from a lot of other books, which you would think would be a positive but publishers are incredibly conservative when it comes to looking for something new, usually wanting "something new" that is as much as possible like the old stuff).

 

All told, it was nearly twenty years after I'd written the first draft before Audible bought the rights to bring out the series. Since then I've gone through each of the six books in the series to do any more necessary rewrites or edits before they were published, so I guess you could say that Dragons marks my longest writing effort by far. But since I've always liked the series and loved the two lead characters, I was willing to maintain that effort.


For more information: http://www.jack-campbell.com/


Share/Save Post:

(If you don’t see anything in this section, your browser may be blocking share buttons)

 

Join me on my Audiobook Journey?

Amazon | Audible | Bloglovin' | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | RSS | Twitter

 

Never Miss a Post

Delivered by FeedBurner


This review will be linked up with the following (hover for descriptions):

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2016-05-11 19:59
Character Trumps Politics: The Goblin Emperor | Review + Narrator Interview
The Goblin Emperor - Tantor Audio,Katherine Addison,Kyle McCarley

YA Fantasy with light steam, a touch of punk, and a heavy dose of politics. Sympathetic main character captured my heart.

 

 

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

 

 

Buy Now | +Goodreads

Whispersync Deal Alert: Audible version is only $4.49 if you already have a Kindle version.

Disclosure: GMB uses affiliate links, clicking and making a purchase may result in a small commission for me.


Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible. (Plus I borrowed the ebook from my library to have access to the appendices and to get the correct spellings.)

 

BOOK DETAILS:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, read by Kyle McCarley, published by Tantor Audio (2014) / Length: 16 hrs 25 min - This book is standalone and not part of any series.

 

SUMMARY:

Why do I love a book where everyone has at least three names, political intrigue is the focus, and nothing really happens?  Ok, it’s not true that nothing happens, only that the action is a minor part of the story. But everyone really does have multiple names & titles (in a complex fictional language to boot). As for the politics, they aren't my kinds of thing and only the glowing reviews convinced me to give it a try anyway. This book may not be for you if those things are a deal breaker.

 

So, if you are still with me, why do I love this book? The characters, and the story that flows from them. I will always prefer a story that seems to follow naturally from the people who inhabit it. When asking myself why I dislike a book that is crazy popular, it is usually because I feel like the author had a story (plot) s/he wanted to tell and the characters are just puppets inside it. I can't connect with someone if I never feel like I know them.

 

While this is a long (and sometimes slow) book, I never felt impatient. I was content to be with Maia as he struggled to become not just a true adult, but an Emperor and someone who wasn't tied to his past or the mistakes of those who came before.

 

Note: although this book deals with many serious subjects, there were sufficient moments of lightness and humor included to avoid getting bogged down.

Read more
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?