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text 2018-07-15 16:58
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy › Terry Brooks $2.99!!
The Sword of Shannara Trilogy - Terry Brooks

he Sword of Shannara
Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races. 

The Elfstones of Shannara
The magical Ellcrys tree is dying, loosening the spell that bars the Demons from enacting vengeance upon the land. Now Wil Ohmsford must guard the Elven girl Amberle on a perilous quest as she carries one of the Ellcrys’ seeds to a mysterious place where it can be quickened into a powerful new force. But dark on their trail comes the Reaper, most fearsome of all Demons, aiming to crush their mission at any cost. 

The Wishsong of Shannara 
An ancient Evil is stirring to new life, sending its ghastly Mord Wraiths to destroy Mankind. To win through the vile growth that protects this dark force, the Druid Allanon needs Brin Ohmsford—for she alone holds the magic power of the wishsong. Reluctantly Brin joins the Druid on his dangerous journey. But a prophecy foretells doom, as Evil nurses its plans to trap the unsuspecting Brin into a fate far more horrible than death. 

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review 2018-07-07 12:36
A fantastic book, didactic, entertaining, and moving. Great images and fabulous writing.
The Third Reich in 100 Objects: A Material History of Nazi Germany - Roger Moorhouse

Thanks to Alex and the rest of the team at Pen & Sword for providing me a hardback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I have always been fascinated by antiques and collectibles, not so much for their monetary value, as for the stories (and the History) behind the objects. As museums prove, objects can make us feel closer to other cultures and eras, creating a tangible reminder of lands and times distant from ours. Some objects might have an intrinsic interest (they are made of valuable materials, or by well-known artists), others are interesting because of their owners (kings, queens, or famous historical figures, like writers, inventors, artists…), and others because of what they represent. Although no objects are good or bad in their own right, they become infused with meaning through the use they are put to, and they can make us feel all kinds of emotions, from delight to abject fear.

In this book, the author has collected a hundred objects to give us, as the subtitle states, ‘A Material History of Nazi Germany’. And he achieves his aim with flying colours. The author is an expert on the period and has written many books about Hitler and Nazi Germany, and although I’m sure different people would have chosen differently, the selection he has put together gives the reader a good understanding of all aspects of life in Nazi Germany. We find personal objects, both of the Nazis (from Hitler’s paint box and his moustache brush to medals, decorations, and death cards) and their victims (the well-known Judenstern [the yellow star Jews had to wear), a forced labourer’s ‘Work Card’, or Sophie Scholl’s Matriculation Card [a member of the White Rose resistance movement]), objects that illustrate everyday life under the regime (ration cards, a gas-mask, the devaluated German banknotes, Hindenburg Lights…), examples of propaganda (The Schattenmann [the shadow man, a warning against talking about military secrets], a variety of posters including one for the propaganda anti-Semitic film Der Ewige Jude, the Great German Art Exhibition Catalogue, and the many imposing buildings), objects directly related to the war, including weaponry (planes, tanks, bombs, even the V-2 Missile) and documents. Each object is accompanied by a brief note (around a page or so) explaining its origin and putting it into context.

Richard Overy’s introduction sets well the project of the book and its author and emphasises the importance of image for Hitler and his party. This becomes increasingly evident as one progresses through the book, where there are ample examples of uniforms, symbolism (like their use of runes, the swastika, and the German eagle), badges… The writing is both informative and compelling, and it varies to suit the nature of the object. Sometimes it is descriptive and fairly neutral, but at others, it is impossible to read without feeling grief, sadness, and/or anger. The book has the advantage of not following a narrative thread, whereby it is easy to read in fits and starts, and readers can pick and choose the objects they are interested in, or go through them all, as I did. If we read it from beginning to end, the objects form a chronological history of sorts, as we start with objects that reflect the beginning of the regime, and eventually get to weaponry and documents from the very end of the war. The last object is Göring’s cyanide capsule, so you get the idea.

There were objects I was familiar with, and others that I knew about but had never seen (for example, the iron bed of a psychiatric asylum, that, as a psychiatrist, I found particularly moving and horrifying), and some that were complete surprises, like a Hitler Elastolin Toy Figure, the Mutterkreuz (a cross given to mothers who had 4 children or more. The author summarises it thus: It signified, in effect, the politicisation of the German womb, [Moorhouse, p. 109]), or the very cute ‘Goliath’ miniature tank (sorry, but there are some lighter moments as well. In case you feel curious, you can check it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goliath_tracked_mine). What I was more impressed by, apart from the quality of both, images and writing, was the way these disparate objects and the narrative behind them managed to give me a good sense of what life was like at the time, without having to read tonnes and tonnes of pages full of dry information. This book illustrates well the power of images. I have read plenty of books set on that era and watched many movies that take place in the same historical period but seeing the real objects helped me feel closer to the action, the people, and the events than I had ever before.

I recommend this book to people interested in the history of the period who are not big experts on it and don’t want an exhaustive account of battles and events. I also recommend it to anybody thinking about writing a book about the era, or people who design sets or work sourcing props or designing backdrops and objects for theatre, television or film. There is plenty of material to inspire numerous productions, and it is all collected in a single, easy-to-read, and well-indexed volume, with notes that facilitate further research tasks. Another winning volume published by Pen & Sword.

A quick note: my version of the book is a hardback copy, but I’ve checked the e-book version and the images are as good as those in the print version (although depending on the use you are thinking of giving it, you might consider what suits you best, as there’s little difference in price between the two versions, but this varies depending on the store).

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review 2018-05-28 22:49
Book Review of Balanced on the Blade's Edge (Dragon Blood Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker
Balanced on the Blade's Edge - Lindsay Buroker

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…

 

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

 

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in the Dragon Blood series. I loved it!

 

Colonel Ridge Zirkander is a wonderful character. I really liked him. In fact, I have a bit of a book boyfriend crush on him. I love his irreverence and dry wit. It reminds me of the way Richard Dean Anderson portrays Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG1. He is one of the best pilots in the Iskandian army. He is charming, though irreverent, and his flying skills are in great demand, but due to an event that sees him punching a diplomat he has been given new orders and sent to prison mine in the Ice Blade mountains as the new commander. The mine contains crystals that power their dragon fliers - planes that are designed to look like the dragons that once lived millennia ago. When he arrives at the mine, he is confronted by an unusual sight - a woman wearing a summer dress in the middle of winter.

 

Sardelle Terushan is also a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a sorceress and a healer. When her home, where the Referatu lived came under attack, she found refuge in a mage stasis chamber. There she stayed until she woke three hundred years later, when she was found by a couple of miners. Determined to locate her soulblade, Jaxi, but struggling to come to terms with the amount of time that's passed, she finds herself confronted by the challenge of hiding her powers in a world that detests magic users, and her attraction to the new mine commander.

 

This story is a mix of steampunk and fantasy. I started to read and didn't put it down until I finished it. I found myself completely hooked from the first page. I love the world-building the author has done to bring this book to life. I also love Jaxi, Sardelle's soulblade. She is a young sorceress who died due to illness, but before dying, her soul was magically placed within a sword. Soulblades bond with their handlers until their handlers die; guide or assist them when needed, then either bond to a new handler or allow themselves to die when they no longer wish to serve. Jaxi is six hundred years old, but because she died young she has a decidedly teen outlook at times, with sarcasm being one of her tools, as well as an irreverence for a person's privacy. I love her witty banter, some of it had me giggling.

 

Iskandia is at war with Cofahre, a rival nation that is determined to take over Iskandia. The Cofah use dirigible type balloons to fly over the ocean, thus the steampunk feel to the story. The Iskandian pilots fly planes that are shaped like dragons but remind me of the old-fashioned planes from the early 1900s - lightweight - though with a mix of propeller and thrusters which reminds me of the Harrier jets that use something similar sans the propeller. The author has mixed these two to create something unique. As the story progressed, I found myself looking forward to seeing how it all played out.

 

Ridge and Sardelle make a wonderful couple and their chemistry is instantaneous. I love how the author wove their love story together with action filled sections that kept me on the edge of my seat. The magical owl is uber scary! There are a couple of scenes between these two that are a little steamy but not explicit. I must admit that I felt a little sorry for Ridge at times, as he gets two for the price of one in this relationship, but he seems to take things in his stride. I reached the end of the book and immediately went and purchased as many books in the series I could, as well as pre-ordered the next book in the series which was due to be released. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Deathmaker, as soon as I can.

 

Lindsay Buroker is a new author to me. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow is wonderful too. I haven't read any of her other books before, however, she has found a fan in me. I am looking forward to reading her other book series as soon as I can.

 

Due to scenes of a sexual nature (though not explicit) and some violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love steampunk, paranormal romance, low fantasy and epic fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-05-26 00:01
The Thief and the Sword (Cleopatra in Space #2) - Mike Maihack
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Awesome continuation of the series. This one picks up right where the last one left off and goes deeper into the prophecies mentioned in the first book. Same great artwork, dialogue style, and characters with a new, mysterious thief and a devious plot involving the charismatic Cleopatra.

Great adventure story that is funny, entertaining, and fast-paced. Just like the first one, this is a perfect read for young graphic novel fans or those just getting into graphic novels. 

I really enjoy all of the action sequences. They are set up in a similar way to fighting scenes in action movies with a great balance of fighting and finesse without being gory or graphic. 

Overall, a wonderful book and an awesome series. I just picked up the third book and am very excited to read it. 
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review 2018-05-15 15:43
The Sword Of Shannara - Terry Brooks

Lo, these many years ago I read this. After seeing the TV series I decided to revisit the books. I remember borrowing them from the Libraries at the time but I only read so far before stopping, I think I just stopped caring and now that I'm revisiting I'm finding that I don't really care what happens to the characters outside of seeing where the plot is going to lead them. It is interesting to see a world that 's more SF than fantasy as it's a post apocalypse story where Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and all of that are as a result of a catacalysm and it's quite complicated.

Shea Olmford is a half-elf and Allanon takes him from his familiar world to help save the world from the Warlord King as he's the last heir of Shannara and the only rightful bearer of the Sword of Shannara.

It has a few lazy "all x do y" moments but otherwise quite readable.

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