31 December, 2012

Why You Should Read The Malazan Book of the Fallen, or A Love Note to Steven Erikson

If you've even attempted to read Gardens of the Moon, the first book in the 10 book epic that is the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you'll see very quickly that you're not given much as a reader. It's confusing, it's complicated, it's full of mysteries and myriad of characters and magics that you can easily become overwhelmed. Not to mention, Gardens of the Moon isn't nearly as well-written as the rest of the series.

Not the most ringing endorsement so far, but we're getting there.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen series is easily the most epic series I've ever read. The history is mysterious (and murderous) and vast, the races are plentiful and old, and the magic is as powerful as it gets.

How many times do you pick up a book that sounds epic, but you start to read and it really isn't? This happens to me all the time. Because of a drawback of the medium, there can only really be a focus on so many characters. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it takes away from the epic-ness. The consequences of a few characters may have far-reaching effects and the history and world may even be vast, but there's still no denying that the scope is limited. It can't really be anything else.

Steven Erikson does something that has yet to be seen in epic fantasy. He has created the standard for what is truly epic. I'll not deny that his characters suffer somewhat from this, many seeming to be essentially the same, but he has truly created a world that is so vast and detailed you won't care.

This is also part of the genius. The characters don't even know what's going on, who's killing whom or why. They rarely even know who's actually in charge. And Erikson puts you right there with them. In addition, they're the ones narrating the story, which means you really have no idea who to trust. This is yet another aspect of his genius because as humans, we tend to want things to go our way, to see things our way, even to tell stories that go our way. Many characters are humble enough to see their shortcomings, but the story is told from very human people... well, and gods.

And like George R.R. Martin, Erikson has no problem killing off main characters. It IS the book of the fallen after all.

Another reason to read this series is what I call the Superman phenomenon. Erikson creates characters who have it all when it comes to magic or military prowess or swordsmanship or you name it. They are all-powerful and when they clash it will blow your mind.

At the same time, he creates tragedy filled with pathos that at one point had me devastated for weeks. This is not a bad thing, not only is it good for the soul, it's powerful writing that evokes emotions in you so strong you feel like you've lost a friend when all you did was finish a book. This makes me wonder how he can possibly be accused of having thin characters when he made me feel like that about them.

Finally, and fittingly, Erikson has written simply the best endings I've ever read. Any bit of confusion, and believe me there's quite a bit in every book of the series, is rewarded ten-fold with an ending that you will never forget.

For most books, you may get a hundred pages as you climax after 500 pages worth of build-up. Erikson gives you at least 200 and in some books even more than this. The Crippled God , the final book in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, starts a part of the climax with 400 pages to go in the trade paperback.

Simply put, read this series. When you're 400 pages in and you still have no clue what's going on, it's okay, I've been there too. It will be worth it, keep pushing on. How many authors really trust you, the reader, to put things together on your own? Have you felt how rewarding that is, have you even been given the chance? Now's your chance.

--------------------

On that note, there is a Malazan Book of the Fallen read going on at Goodreads here. I know it's late notice, but the official read starts tomorrow and I heartily recommend you join with us. It's for new and older readers as well and there are threads for each chapter and then threads for the rereaders to go off on implications for later in the series.

If you've ever wondered about starting this series, doing so with a group to help clarify things might actually help a whole lot. I'm really excited to give this a go and see what others think of a series that is arguably my all-time favorite.

We'll be reading four chapters a week of Gardens of the Moon, starting tomorrow, January 1. So, if you still need to secure a copy, you won't be too far behind (although Malazan chapters do tend to run long). I'm not moderating or anything, but I thought it would be a great opportunity for anyone who wanted to know about it. 



Ps. For an excellent piece about this series as a whole, check out Neth Space's article here.

30 December, 2012

Only the Best (of the Year) - Top 10 New Releases of 2012

One day I'll lighten up on the use of parentheses, but that day is not today!

The following are my top 10 New Releases of 2012. This may not be the first during this season of list-posting, so be prepared for at least one more list displaying my top reads regardless of publishing year. Which, to be honest, is really just another way to cheat and add more books to lists. Don't blame me, I can't tell you enough how good of a reading year I've had. This is not really a bad problem here.

Top 10 of 2012:
10. Shadow's Master (Shadow Saga #3) by Jon Sprunk (review) [interview]

Keeping up the same action-packed pace as the rest of the trilogy, Shadow's Master is an excellent conclusion to a great series. While things wrap up nicely (for the most part), it didn't feel like such a perfect wrap-up, more like a transition to the next stage and I really liked that.
9. Echoes of the Past (Demon Squad #4) by Tim Marquitz (review)

If you're ready for a different kind of urban fantasy, this is just for you. If you're ready for action-packed fun and your jokes are often accused of being perfect for a junior high kid, this series is perfect. The Demon Squad series is my favorite urban fantasy series for good reason and Echoes of the Past is a worthy installment.
8. The Wind Through the Keyhole (Dark Tower #4.5) by Stephen King (review)

As someone who considers Wizard and Glass one of his all-time favorite books (inside and outside of the Dark Tower universe), I love me a good flashback. Not everyone does and I'll even admit that I thought this book would be a tale of the Ka-tet, not another flashback within a flashback. I'd still recommend this to fans of the Dark Tower and even non-readers alike.
7. This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs (review)

All in all, if you're going to read a zombie book, you should read This Dark Earth. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down anyway, so start now.
6. The Tainted City (Shattered Sigil #2) by Courtney Schafer (review) [interview]

One of the best reads this year as well as last, Courtney Schafer has delivered again. Not only with engaging characters and compelling plot, but with something new and diverse that I can't wait to come back to in The Labyrinth of Flame, book three in The Shattered Sigil Trilogy. 
5. King of Thorns (Broken Empire #2) by Mark Lawrence (review)


Lawrence has created a series that challenges your perceptions and manages to be compulsively readable. The Broken Empire trilogy is an experience to say the least. I couldn't put it down and that's partly because I couldn't look away. King of Thorns takes the anti-hero to a whole new level, one who gives Logan Ninefingers of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy a run for his money.
4. Shadow Ops: Control Point (Shadow Ops #1) by Myke Cole (review)

Myke Cole is an author to watch and Shadow Ops: Control Point is possibly the best debut of the year [it was very close]. I know it's early yet, but I couldn't put this book down and that goes a long way for me.
3. Kings of the Morning (Macht #3) by Paul Kearney (review)

Paul Kearney has created a  history that is epic in every sense of the word and this trilogy is military fantasy at its best. It's so easy to get sucked in, this series was made for multiple readings and the stories are just as thrilling as those of the 300 Spartans at the Hot Gate. You come to see people doing the impossible and that's what you get.
2. Red Country by Joe Abercrombie (review)

Some people may be put off by a bit of a slow start, but once you reach the halfway point you will have a decidedly difficult time putting the book down. This was a great reminder that I need to read more Abercrombie and soon. Red Country manages not only to be a stellar fantasy, but ranks with the best of the western genre as well. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid eat your heart out.
1. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (review)

Bennett not only writes about magic, but his writing itself is imbued with magic and a bit of humor and even a little darkness. To be mentioned in the same breathe as Neil Gaiman would be no stretch of the imagination. The Troupe may just be the best book of 2012. [and it was!] 

Best Anthology:
Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, Edited by Tim Marquitz (review)

If you're looking for a great Halloween read, it would be hard to find better. If you're looking for an excellent anthology in general, you've found it. Fading Light is easily one of the best anthologies I've ever read, second only to Songs of the Dying Earth.
Honorable Mention:
The Hollow City by Dan Wells (review)
Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder's Arc #1) by Jeff Salyards (review)

EDIT: I don't know why I didn't link my reviews to these Honorable Mentions, so here they are.

28 December, 2012

Looking Forward to 2013 - Most Anticipated Books

I've been working on this list for a couple months now and it's just about right to publish to the blog. I may have to update it a few more times, but the following are the books, released in 2013, I plan on reading this upcoming year or at least plan on making an attempt to get to. As you'll see, I still have a few books to read to get to all the new releases this year.

I've placed them by the month (and even the exact date when available), but this in no way means I'll be reviewing them in that same month. I figured it was as good a way as any to put things together, plus people may want to refer back to this (myself included) for those release dates (US only).

Jan:

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light (WoT #14) (Jan. 8) [US] [UK]
Myke Cole, Fortress Frontier (Shadow Ops #2) (Jan. 29) [US] [UK]

Feb:


Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons (Feb. 5) [US] [UK]
Robert V. S. Redick, The Night of the Swarm (Chathrad Voyages #4) (Feb. 5) [US] [UK]
Robert Jackson Bennett, American Elsewhere (Feb. 12) [US] [UK]
Peter V. Brett, The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) (Feb. 12) [US] [UK]

March:

Orson Scott Card, The Gate Thief (Mithermages #2) (Mar. 19) [US] [UK]

April:


John Marco, The Forever Knight (Lukien #4) (Apr. 2) [US] [UK]

John Scalzi, The Human Division (Apr. 2) [US] [UK]
Brian McClellan, Promise of Blood (Apr. 16) [US] [UK]

May:


Westley Chu, The Lives of Tao (May 2) [US] [UK]
Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist (May 14) [US] [UK]
Ian C. Esslemont, Blood and Bone (Malazan Empire #5) (May 21) [US] [UK] - Available now in the UK.

Jun:

Ofir Touche Gafla, The World of the End (Jun. 25) [Goodreads]

Aug:


Mark Lawrence, Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire #3) (Aug. 1) [US] [UK]

Michael J. Sullivan, The Crown Tower (Riyria Chronicles #1) (Aug. 3) [US] [UK]

Sep:

Michael J. Sullivan, The Rose and Thorn (Riyria Chronicles #2) [US] [UK]

TBD:
Courtney Schafer, The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil #3) 
Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves (Gentlemen Bastards #3)

Not Counting On:

Patrick Rothfuss, The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicle #3)
George R.R. Martin, The Winds of Winter (ASoIaF #6) 
Brandon Sanderson, Highprince of War (Stormlight Archive #2) [Title not final]

Non-2013 Release Date Books: (i.e., Books I need to read to catch up)

The Lukien Trilogy by John Marco (The Eyes of God, The Devil's Armor, The Sword of Angels)
The Chathrad Voyages by Robert V.S. Redick (The Red Wolf Conspiracy, The Ruling Sea, The River of Shadows)
The Wheel of Time (A Crown of Swords, Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight)
Malazan Empire (Stonewielder and Orb, Sceptre, Throne)
Riyria Revelations (Heir of Novron)

35 in total. 19 new releases. I read about 50 to 60 a year, so this is going to take up the bulk of my reading and this is only through September.


EDIT: There are a few books being released that I probably should have put on this list (Daniel Abraham's Tyrant's Law, Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane, S.A. Corey's Abbadon's Gate), but the ones listed are what I think I actually have a chance of reading this year.

EDIT Feb. 8: Updated some dates for The Daylight War and The Lives of Tao.

27 December, 2012

(movie) Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (or, Why All the Hate?)


There have been lots of thoughts on this movie already, but I felt I needed to add my two cents, because, well, lots of people are just plain wrong.

Okay, maybe people have good reason to be disappointed with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but I wanted to tell you why you shouldn't be. 

I think we all had a bit of an inkling that the film version of our beloved book, The Hobbit, wasn't quite going to follow the book precisely when we learned it was going to be two movies. I mean, each of the books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy got one movie and they're all longer than The Hobbit...so logic already started us down this path.

Then we found out it was going to be three movies.

Slight doubt was replaced with actual knowledge. The movie version(s) of The Hobbit was NOT GOING TO FOLLOW THE BOOK exactly.


So, why are so many people coming out of this movie utterly disappointed the movie didn't follow the book? You already knew this going in! There were no expectations to dash in this regard and if you had any expectations, they should have rightfully been dashed weeks if not months before the viewing of this movie.

The Hobbit delivers with orc-slaying, adventure-having, rock-throwing, breath-taking goodness. What's wrong with that?

Now there are few books I reread, there are just too many to go through once, but The Hobbit is one of the rare books I've read twice. It will always have a special place in my heart and I still loved this movie.

I'm not going to say it was completely devoid of fault. Two things irritated me for a time and they were the handling of the troll scene, which was good in its own right, but COMPLETELY different when it could have been kept the same. The other thing was the use of CGI was a bit (okay really) heavy at times especially for the main big baddie. This was still nothing to ruin my enjoyment, we're back in middle earth people!

If you could only have seen my face as I watched The Hobbit. There was literally a smile ear to ear the entire time. I loved it.

I'm pleading with you, manage your expectations. Think of this as Peter Jackson goes to Middle Earth (with possibly the only goal of staying consistent with his earlier films). You'll be much happier.

EDIT: If you would prefer an article that actually uses the expansive Middle Earth source material and you know sources in general (you know, what some may call a credible argument), this one's excellent.

25 December, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope everyone's having/has had a great Christmas. Here's my all time favorite Christmas song for your enjoyment, Don't Shoot Me Santa by The Killers:

22 December, 2012

Night Shade Books - Free Downloads Yet Again! AND eBook Deals

This nice combined image stolen from Civilian Reader.

I can't help it, who doesn't love free books? The word must be spread. Night Shade Books is giving away three more books in celebration of averting the Mayan prophecy.
Email StillHere@nightshadebooks.com and you'll receive an auto response from us with a username, password and link to our download site where you'll be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of some of our most exciting and appropriately apocalyptic titles...
Like I said last time, give Night Shade Books a try. They've made up for past mistakes, it's time to forgive and forget and read amazing books.


In other eBook deals news:
[$3.9911/22/63 by Stephen King
[$0.99] Dragon Haven (Rain Wilds #2) by Robin Hobb
[$1.99] Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy #1) by C.S. Lewis
[$1.99] Perelandra (Space Trilogy #2) by C.S. Lewis
[$1.99] That Hideous Strength (Space Trilogy #3) by C.S. Lewis
[$0.99] The Shadowdance Trilogy by David Dalglish - The entire trilogy is contained in one, nicely priced download.


Today Only:
[$1.99] Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence - Excellent debut. See my review. The sequel, King of Thorns (my review), is also excellent if not more so.

21 December, 2012

Review - Kings of the Morning (Macht #3) by Paul Kearney

Kings of the Morning [US] [UK] is the third book in the Macht trilogy and quite possibly the best. I've been keeping up with this series for the most part as they've come out, so this could also be on account of my shoddy memory.

That's the drawback with keeping up on a series. You get all the excitement and expectation of waiting, but slowly you have to rely on summaries and rereads as the time between releases grows. Which is better, keeping up on a series or only reading completed series? Who's to say. I like to mix it up with anything I do, so I prefer some of each.

Spoilers follow for the first two books in the series, The Ten Thousand and Corvus. Just know, epic military battles full of phalanxes and HUGE armies are waiting for you at this stage in the trilogy. It's worth it.

The Ten Thousand, book one, introduces us to the Macht, a mercenary people seen as barbarians and heathens by the rest of the world of Kuf. A large army (possibly around 10,000) are commissioned in a large civil war for the kingdom of Assuria. We are also introduced to Rictus, who becomes pivotal in this saga. Epicness ensues and the ten thousand are cemented in history.

Corvus, book two, introduces conflict among the Macht as a genius military commander begins to do the impossible - unite the Macht under one banner. It looks like it's more than possible as city after city falls to his growing army. Rictus wants only to rest and relax with his family in their newly built home. Of course, Corvus won't let him do that and he doesn't even know if that's what he really wants.

Then comes Kings of the Morning, final book of the Macht trilogy. Corvus has done the impossible and united the Macht, but his desire to make history doesn't end there. He wants the world and with the greatest fighting race, it's going to take one big effing army to stop him. Yes, that's what we get and it is awesome.


The Macht trilogy is secondary world fantasy with very low magic, which may be completely absent as it's mostly explained away in this book. I honestly hadn't read a book this quickly in ages. Kearney has a way of pulling you in and not letting go. This really surprised me especially because the people you're expecting to show up don't show up until about a third of the way into the book. And yet, the plot zings along, armies gather, epic battles ensue. 

Paul Kearney has created a  history that is epic in every sense of the word and this trilogy is military fantasy at its best. It's so easy to get sucked in, this series was made for multiple readings and the stories are just as thrilling as those of the 300 Spartans at the Hot Gate. You come to see people doing the impossible and that's what you get.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended!)

The Macht Trilogy
1) The Ten Thousand (review)
2) Corvus (review)
3) Kings of the Morning

18 December, 2012

eBook Deals, or Books I Bought Recently - Wurts, Del Toro, Scalzi

Wow, Amazon really thinks we're in the mood to buy things for some reason. :) For the moment, they've discounted a really great and criminally under-read series, The Wars of Light and Shadow. I was lucky enough to welcome the author herself to the blog and explain the series here.


[$0.99The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light and Shadow #1) by Janny Wurts - In my review, I called this the most frustratingly amazing book I've ever read. See why.
[$1.99The Ships of Merior (Wars of Light and Shadow #2) by Janny Wurts
[$3.79Warhost of Vastmark (Wars of Light and Shadow #3) by Janny Wurts
[$1.99] The Strain (Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

EDIT: The Wurts books are also available for you Nookers (that's what you like to be called right? :D) Curse [$0.99], Ships [$1.99], Warhost [$3.99]

Today Only:
[$2.99] Old Man's War (Old Man's War #1) by John Scalzi - I read this before I started blogging and it's highly recommended. Don't expect hard science or anything, but it has a great story, humor, and it's extremely hard to put down.
[$2.99] Legend by Marie Wu - All I know is it's YA and has a pretty fancy cover.

17 December, 2012

Review - King of Thorns (The Broken Empire #2) by Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence stormed onto the scene (well, as much as you can in the publishing world) last year with his debut, Prince of Thorns (my non-standard review), book one in The Broken Empire. This divisive book found a fan in me, despite this particular first person point of view that all notions of good and virtue tells you to hate.

I found a lot of things that I liked about Jorg even though I didn't love everything about him. Lawrence's captivating writing and smooth prose keep the pages flying and have not a little to do with making this work genius in its own ways.

King of Thorns [US] [UK] is quite the experience to say the least. Jorg really resonated with me in this sequel, he's growing up a bit, still self-obsessed, but seeing things a little differently than his kill everything/everyone past. I like his whole, "I'm going to make this happen no matter the odds" philosophy, but at times he really is hard to read. 

While his disposition on let's say kicking severed heads was enlightening, clever, and funny, it's also terribly creepy. And that's not the only one. I've heard it compared to "staring at a fire," you just can't stop, but how much are you really enjoying it? The more I think about it, the more this describes my reading experience. I don't really know how much I actually enjoyed the reading experience especially with the amount of cringe-worthy moments.

This being said, I am vastly impressed by Lawrence's talent to not only keep you reading despite these moments, but to keep you rooting for a character who can be so deplorable. I say "can be" because he does have his moments of goodness, they're just peppered with moments that make you a little sick or shocked even.

Along with the character of Jorg, Lawrence employs a plot device throughout King of Thorns that I thought was incredibly interesting and worked extremely well. The book takes place four years after Prince of Thorns and consists of the present day and then lengthy flashbacks to four years earlier, when Jorg was newly "crowned" king of Renar. The present is actually his Wedding Day, but at the same time the Prince of Arrow has marched on the highlands of Renar with his countless soldiers. By flashing between these two time frames, we begin to find out that Jorg has not only grown, but has had dealings with the Prince of Arrow in the past. 

In the present, we see Jorg is going through some, let's call them mental experiences. He sees a dead child everywhere he goes, which is obviously a hallucination, and he holds some mysterious box. The box is not only an interesting addition to the story, but works as an impressive plot device, but I'm wary of revealing too much. Let's just say there is an addition means of keeping information from the reader.

As well as using clever plot devices, I found Lawrence's human to be clever in the extreme, with little gems like this strewn throughout:

"They call it a gate but it is a door, five yards high, three yards wide, black oak with iron banding, a smaller door set into the middle of it for when it is simply men seeking entrance rather than giants."
For many instances of humor, I had to reread, almost missing the joke entirely. This is definitely the kind of humor I prefer and Mark has a subtlety that just worked for me.

Lawrence has created a series that challenges your perceptions and manages to be compulsively readable. The Broken Empire trilogy is an experience to say the least. I couldn't put it down and that's partly because I couldn't look away. King of Thorns takes the anti-hero to a whole new level, one who gives Logan Ninefingers of Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy a run for his money.

4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended!)

The Broken Empire:
1) Prince of Thorns (review)
2) King of Thorns 
3) Emperor of Thorns (forthcoming

16 December, 2012

The Game of Books - Read to Level Up

Leveling up through the books you read? I'm in. I pretty much do this already with Goodreads and my addiction to "likes."

I thought I'd help spread the word for The Game of Books. This looks too cool not to be a part of.


(thanks Pats)

What makes this even better is the fact that the person who founded The Game of Books is a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd fan. Well, I guess that's probably the only type of person who would come up with this. Someone completely awesome.

More contact info for The Game of Books (not to be confused with Game of Books which doesn't exist):

Facebook

Kickstarter

eBook Deals, or Books I Bought Recently

Sadly, I missed posting the deal for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell yesterday. I'd say it's worth full price anyway as it's easily in my top 10 all-time favorite books list. But, some good ones came out today that I'm right on top of.


[$3.99Tears in Rain by Rosa Montero - I'm definitely intrigued after reading Justin's review.
[$1.99] Winner Lose All: A Lando Calrissian Tale by Timothy Zahn - In preparation for Zahn's upcoming novel, Scoundrels, which looks really cool to say the least.
[FREE] Wool by Hugh Howey - This is the first tale (novella length) in the Wool series, might as well try it out.
[FREE] The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Most of the novels and short stories are free anyway, but only individually. This collects them all with the books chronologically and then the short stories chronologically. However, the books and short stories together are not chronological, but I still think this is your best bet.

Today Only:
[$1.99] The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett
[$2.99] The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1) by John Flanagan


EDIT: Also, all the deals in these last two eBook deals posts are still underway: Post 1, Post 2.

14 December, 2012

Upkeep - Index of Reviews

In a long overdue bout of house cleaning, I've updated our index of reviews, which can be found in the upper right hand corner of the page and here:

Index of Reviews

The last time I'd updated that list was earlier this year (January 9th to be exact...eek). I should really try to keep up on that, this took forever.

13 December, 2012

Review - Echoes of the Past (Demon Squad #4) by Tim Marquitz

For some reason I have a really hard time reviewing sequels. Obviously, I've read this far (especially 4 books in), so I'm a big fan at least of the first ones. Then again, readers couldn't possibly be accused of being OCD when it comes to finishing right?

And while I realize they could have "jumped the shark" (has this phrase jumped the shark yet?), I still find it difficult to review. Are you allowed to assume people will know to read at their peril? Do you have to do big spoiler warnings? Are there really rules for things like reviewing (lots of people on Goodreads seem to think so at least)?

Anyway suffice it to say, the Demon Squad series is easily my favorite urban fantasy series. That may also be because it's not your typical urban fantasy although it does include a first person point of view, lots of jokes, and of course buxom ladies.

A lot of this lies in the main protagonist, and first person point of view, of Frank Trigg. He's instantly relatable and a total dog. Not a werewolf or anything, which is not unfathomable in UF, but more toward women and with most things he thinks about (which is everything in this first person narrative). 

At the same time, he's a good guy, though if you said so he'd probably punch you in the face. He'd do anything for his friends and family, even the ones that hate his guts, but again, you'd never hear him admit as such.

I feel it's important to make those distinctions because I think that's what I like about him. We all have this image of ourselves, but maybe we're actually a little better than we think we are ... maybe we're worse too. But I don't think the latter is very often the case, I think most don't think as much. 

Again, not that Frank would ever even entertain this notion either. :D

The Demon Squad series deals with a world where God and the Devil have taken off and left the angels and demons and any other creatures, along with humanity on their own. Different factions attempt to take control, but there are still some people who attempt to do what's best for the world. Some include an organization dedicated to this same idea called DRAC (Demonic Resistance And Containment) and of course Frank Trigg who's mostly considered a member some of the time. :)

Now's the point where spoilers come in for the earlier books. Let me know if you don't need this warning.

In Echoes of the Past [US] [UK] as usual Frank can't get a break. He just helped save the world in At the Gates and still people think he's bad. I guess being Lucifer's nephew kind of doesn't make you popular.

Not only does Frank have the usual problems with demons trying to stomp all over him, he's been forced to take a break from DRAC and even the government is now after him, who knows less than nothing but is willing to assert itself anyway. That's the one thing that the author just didn't get right for me. :D

Oh, and there's an alien after him for no apparent reason whatsoever. Yup, that's just normal for Frank.

This installment in the Demon Squad series was a little more heavy on building up some of the world and the mysteries and even one big reveal that was more of a soft reveal that was purposely telegraphed toward the beginning. That's not to say there isn't lots of action because no Demon Squad book could ever be accused of lacking for action, Echoes of the Past included. Seriously, tons!

Tim Marquitz not only fills the pages with action, but does so exceptionally well. He also has a wonderfully creepy imagination. The alien wears a suit of faces, for instance, and individual faces are described, the alien's magic uses his magic to take things out of books and drop them on people (namely Frank), such as whales (Moby Dick and its inherent jokes). What kind of bibliophile doesn't love that?

In addition to a great story, Echoes of the Past opens the story up to something I've been waiting for since the very beginning of this series. I won't get into it, but it has me VERY excited. As At the Gates pushed the Demon Squad series into a more epic territory, Echoes of the Past builds on that, filling in the backstory and opening up the scope even more.

If you're ready for a different kind of urban fantasy, this is just for you. If you're ready for action-packed fun and your jokes are often accused of being perfect for a junior high kid, this series is perfect. The Demon Squad series is my favorite urban fantasy series for good reason and Echoes of the Past is a worthy installment.

4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended!)

Also check out this new interview of Tim Marquitz at Battle Hymns.

The Demon Squad series:
1) Armageddon Bound (review)
2) Resurrection (review)
3) At the Gates (review)
4) Echoes of the Past
5) (forthcoming)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher