Review: The Pyres By Dylan Doose.

Hey Bookworms! So here we are my final review for the Sword & Sorcery box set. The Pyres. I read and reviewed the previous novel and novella and you can find those posts (Insert link here) and (Here). Now I started out thinking this would just be a good little freebie to read when I was drinking my tea or coffee in between chores and errands while my kids were at school. I had no real expectations one way or another as before having read the series I had never heard of Dylan Doose. I’ve had mixed emotions through reading these three books and this will conclude what I have to say until I get around to reading more of the series. With that said let me tell you what I thought of this one.

I mentioned when I reviewed Catacombs of Time the first two books left me with unresolved questions that didn’t get answered. Now I went into The Pyres praying for answers. The Pyres takes us once again back to that unlikely trio in the first book. A whole fourteen months after the final events in Fire & Sword. The time jumping between books really rattles me and throws me off a little. When things like this happen in novels I really find it difficult to follow everything that is going on. Thus it took me a while to get to grips with The Pyres.

Theron I have taken a bit of an issue with his character in this one, hes changed he’s colder and harder and not quite the same man as he was in Fire & Sword. Now giving the events in the first book I can see why some personality shift is essential. He went through a lot, he also lost a lot because he did what he felt what was right and noble. Which were prime motivators for his character at that point in the series. He suddenly no longer the same ethical and philosophical man he was in that first book. He’s cold, closed off and distant from his friends and companions and I feel this is quite a leap from how he had been. I think a bit more back story I think a lot more back story into what went on in those fourteen months could really help readers understand why he’s undergone such a massive shift in that time. There’s no sense of his thoughts or motivations as to why he’s distancing himself. Speaking purely as a reader I would have loved more insight into that.

Kendrick he’s also changed there are shifts in his character but I do feel he’s moving forwards from everything rather than back. He’s still striving to overcome the past and when he is recognised for that past in this book I could really sense in the descriptions of his emotions and reactions he’s waiting for some kind of retribution for those actions despite the good he’s done since then. He does seem to take a more laid back stance and following where Theron leads though it’s shown multiple times he’s more than capable of being a strong leader. I kept asking myself throughout this book when Theron was obviously so consumed by his own inner turmoil, why did Kendrick not take control of things. Steer the three of them back upon the bath they had been on?

Aldous is the one that I think has stayed the most steady in terms of how he was in the first books to this one. There are at points where he seems almost as cripled by the loss from the first book as Theron but he seems to bare it better. He doesn’t seem to let it cloud his decision making so much. There is a point in the book though where something in his character seems to snap and he lets the floodgates of his power open and it inevitably turns the tide. I didn’t think that would be the case in this book because it happened in the first book at pivotal moments and thus I felt it was sort of predictable. He does make some bad decisions which seem to land them in this situation in the first place. This is also consistent with his character I feel as compared to Theron and Kendrick he is decidedly less experience with life and fighting in general. I find it sad that out of the characters he seems the least dimensional in this book purely because other than raw power I don’t feel he’s grown as much as maybe the experience he’s had should have allowed him to.

Now one thing I did love that stayed consistent the female character, I say character as we only ever seem to get one main character thats female. Dalia in this book is a strong, fierce and capable woman. Much like Chayse in the first book she’s supported and never really underestimated by those around her. I like the fact that the female characters we do get an indepth look at so far haven’t been damsels in distress. What does annoy me if the fact that they never seem to stick around something always seems to happen to take these bad ass women away. I’d kill for Doose to give us a strong woman who sticks around. I’m holding out hope I still have a lot of the series to read. There’s a few surprises in store for Dalia’s character that I don’t want to give away but it totally rocked me.

Dammar, Leviatan and indeed the Patriarch. These seem to be our three main focus when it comes to the antagonists in this book. We never see Leviathan in this book at least not really but it is mentioned quite a lot toward the end. I want to know what Leviathan is capable and if they can stop him I think that alone may be enough to keep me going despite my issues with the book. Dammar is a god of creation and change mentioned throughout the book. At some point he’s referred to as a demon and he quite quickly becomes a far bigger problem than thought to be. Finally The Patriarch, such a hypocritical character tied to religion The Luminescent in the first book he leads the people in the city of Bravos. Now the The Luminescent are against sorcery, they fear it! This is why Aldous’ father was burned on a Pyre because he sympathised with those who could do Sorcery. I find The Patriarch to be hypocritical because we learn at the coming to the end of the book that he is in fact like Aldous a Wizard. Why would he support something that so obviously wishes to have so many of his brethren put to death for who they are? Once again the lack of motive, and backstory to the character irks me.

My final peeve, since The Catacombs of Time I have wondered where Gaige was going to come into everything. He was sent to find Aldous, Theorn and Kendrick. We see nothing of Gaige until towards the end of the book from a few passages in his POV. I had expected to have him feature far more heavily after we learned so little about him in the first book. While this addressed for me while I was introduced to Gaige in the novella. I would still love to know more about him as a character and the why of him having to find the three main characters. It’s all very thin on the detail and I’m not sure how I should feel about that.

We get introduced to another new female character in this book. Nephite a sorceress from Kendricks past. Yet another strong capable and deadly woman. I’m hoping we see more of her in the books to come, I’d love for one female character to be around for more than one novel. Otherwise this series is going to be very testosterone heavy. Which is something I can not really abide in a book.

I will be reading the other novels in the series when I get a moment to purchase them. I’ll let you all know when I plan on reviewing them I promise.

I’ll see you real soon bookworms.

Stephie X.

Review: Catacombs of Time by Dylan Doose

Hello bookworms, today’s post will be brief because The Catacombs of Time is but a novella and as such there is not much to analyse or report without giving you spoilers. Fire & Sword left me with a lot of questions that I had no answers for so I looked forward to maybe having a few of them answered by this one. I didn’t get those answers not really, I simply ended up with more questions. Now onto my thoughts and frustrations with this one.

Catacombs of Time started with a completely set of new characters and I was dismayed by this. I looked forward to more of Kendrick, of Theron and Aldous I had grown to love them for their various flaws as well as their positive personality traits. That being said my own need to know got the better of me so I read on and while like I say I ended up with more questions than answers I enjoyed the book.

Gaige, the main character for this Novella seems extremely flawed. There is no real description as to what he looks like. All I took away about Gaige from this book is that he is an educated man with a thirst to push the boundaries of science and medicine of his time. That he does not care about the negative opinion that his studies would bring. Finally I also know he is physically disabled by the way of a possibly malformed leg and maybe has some facial deformity due to the constant wear of a beaked mask. I believe there to be only one point in which he does not wear this mask and we get no idea of how he looks underneath.

Some seem more open to his ideas because it seems that he has uncovered ways to save those who have been cursed by sorcery to become beasts. This is how he finds himself in a possibly less desirable place attempting to save a young woman in this method. Sent here by the mysterious Lord Regent he has to save her and take her alive to where she needs to go. Gaige manages this but only just. He loses his assistant in the battle, he is harmed and then eaten by Ghouls.

We see him come to the conclusion of getting the girl to where she belongs and being faced with the Lord Regent who in turn answered maybe only one or two of my questions from the previous book. The others are gone and only he remains of our original heroes. Gaige is given a task to fulfill which he takes and this sees him leaving the actual Catacombs of Time in search of our heroes.

I found this one a little underwhelming. There’s no real answers to follow that first book which got me frustrated. To top that there’s no explanation for why Gaige chooses to do what he does. There’s no real motive for any of it. We never learn who the girl is or why she was important to the Lord Regent though I have my theories as to who she is. All I got out of the book was the confirmation that one of the original main characters was indeed still alive while it is implied the others are dead. The book fell flat for me and again left me with more questions than answers though I did enjoy it still. The characters were good if not as well developed as the first book and the story moved at a good pace. 

I think this one could have been done so much better though. If only to have a little more history added to how the land came to the call of science and medicine though it feared sorcery. Why Gaige is the way that he is and does the things that he does without much preamble or regret. I’d have loved more backstory and more insight as to the motivations of all the characters for why they are the way they are.

I’ll see you real soon bookworms when I’ll be telling you what I thought of The Pyres the next book in the box set.

Stephie X.

Review: Fire and Sword by Dylan Doose.

So in mid October, long before I had made the decision to start this blog I downloaded a book box set. I found it on my daily bookbub email. I told you in the first post a lot of the books I would be telling you about I found through that glorious little website. Anyway, I digress. Onto the books or rather book. I’m only going to cover the first one in this box set in this post because I fear if I did all three I may overload you all on any information.

Fire and Sword by Dylan Doose, its listed as a dark fantasy on amazon which was the choice I clicked upon when I found it through bookbubs. This way it went straight to my Kindle and I didn’t have to worry about fidgeting around with downloading and sideloading. Now it took me a while to get started reading this one because it was around about the time I started preparing for Nanowrimo so I was flitting between plotting and character development and obsessively swiping my finger across my Kindle to turn the page. This should have no reflection on the book, this is purely me wanting to do too much at once and all at once. I will say this before we get into the grit of it, there are interludes before every chapter. I wondered about these, I even found them to make the story drag. But as things progressed I saw them for what they are valuable pieces of information in what happened before all that happens has happened. Things done and said by characters who never truly appear for one reason or another.

There are so many things I loved about this book and so many things I disliked. I loved the character arcs for our unlikely quartet of heroes. Fire and Sword sees Doose bring together some very unlikely people whom by the end of the novel I think fit, compliment and understand one another very well. No one really falls flat on their face as a one dimensional character they all overcome something that makes them a little better than when they started out. What I love about this Fantasy novel is that there is no blushing damsel in distress who is in need of saving. One of our main female characters that consistently appears is just as strong and capable as any of her male counterparts. This I feel is a brilliant step in the world of fantasy novels where I feel all the women eventually need saving by a big strong man. Chayse gave me a strong female character that made me smile, I am unashamed to say I grew very attached to her.

Now while the next three characters are the main focus of everything in this story. We switch a lot between their POV’S once we get going, I found it hard to distinguish one from another at first. Though I don’t think this is for any lack of distinguishability between the voices. I think it is more due to at times the abrupt shift from one to the other. It made it hard for me to sift seamlessly between then and thus sometimes I felt like I had been jolted from one scene and into another without ceremony.

Theron and Kendrick are both of a similar vein, strong capable men who know what needs to be done and how to do it. But their back stories as they shaped them show us how different paths can somehow still lead you to the same place. While Kendrick led a gruesome and may I say violent life. That is not to be said for Theron who seems to have grown up in a relatively happy home and well cared for before pursuing a life of hunting beasts and killing monsters. All this when he could be living a life of luxury and want for nothing. I like Doose’s spin on the rich lord actually willingly getting his hands dirty and working for his means.

Finally there is Aldous, I wanted to dislike him and for the first few pages I did. Then his back story hit. Its tragic and he’s not at all who he seems and this only seems to grow as the book progresses. He’s very much the underdog character. I’ve always rooted for the underdog and I’m not at all surprised I found myself rooting for Aldous. While I wondered many a time where Doose was going with Aldous I found I was never disappointed, The character grew and developed with the challenges put in his path. The fact that he didn’t prove to a typical crass male hero like Theron and Kendrick seemed to be only added to my liking of him. He never once assumes Chayse isn’t capable of all she does just because of her gender. Unlike many of the male characters in the story.

Now moving away from our dear main characters we have the world in which they reside. Its rich and well thought out, the magic has consequences to the users and I find that to be a good addition. I have read so many fantasies where over use of magic has not affected the wielder one iota. This annoys me to no end as I’m a firm believe of the each and every action has an equal and opposite reaction type of person. So I find myself loving that Wizards, and witches or sorcerers or mages. As they are referred to by all these words at some point in the book often feel the effects when the wield magic for extended periods. Or when they wield large amounts in a short amount of time.

I find the time taken to travel by the characters, versus the methods of travel to be believable given the setting of the book. This is something I also find is often overlooked in books that aren’t set in a modern type setting where travel is quick and can sometimes be pretty instantaneous.

There are beats and monsters in their world and I love this there are things that are dangerous that they fight and there’s real stakes for what is to happen. Our heroes never seem to come away unscathed from a fight with a foe. Sometimes these injuries are more serious than others but there wins seem to come at a price as I think all things should. No one likes a fight so easily won. I will say some of the outcomes from their fighting I find a bit hard to believe. A few times a character has come away with an obliterated or broken knee from a mere single blow and not always has that blow been delivered with some kind of heavy weaponry.

Now while we have covered the reality of the stakes of great battles and fighting beasts and monsters there is something to be said for this book. As it wears on it becomes gruesome in its descriptions.  Now I’m not one fore gore I never have been there’s a reason I literally could not bring myself to watch the walking dead. It gave me nightmares. So do most gory things. Now while this had gore in spades, to the point I actually gaged multiple times and at one point wanted to throw up in my own mouth. It was manageable I suffered nor intrusions to my peaceful sleep because of it. Though I really do feel if there had been no gore, or it had been toned down the story would not have been the same. I remember gasping at one moment and going ‘oh god that was f#@king awful.’ K looked at me with raised eyebrows and asked what I was whining about. Now he liked the walking dead he likes blood and guts and gore. But even he winced when I read the part aloud that caused the reaction in me.

Now there’s the main plot and our main antagonist and this character is amazing. Operating from the shadows and using other minor antagonists and antagonistic points from various members of our quartets past to further their own means. All these subplots and minor antagonists along with the beasts fought and still to be fought combine to make the overall plot of the story compelling. I find it hard to stay engaged if a story simply plods on at the pace of a stubborn mule. I have two books not even halfway read that do this. Now Fire and Sword has its moments where pace is slow where Doose builds up our characters a little more. These slower points I feel lead us to our faster paced moments and truly set the scene.

Now I’ve mentioned the blood, guts and gore of the book. I’ve mentioned in passing battles and the fighting of beasts and monsters. With things like this there comes a lot of death. Nothing ever comes out all rosy. This book keeps true to situations like that and people die. Lots of people die. A few of these deaths had my eyes pricking suspiciously and my nose stinging as if maybe Chayse herself had thumped me in it. Yes I am one of those bookworms who gets emotionally invested and properly bawls when a character I care about dies. Think just about every single Potterhead when J.K Rowling killed off Sirius, Hedwig and Lupin. Of course there are more examples but that suspicious prickling in my eyes is back. 

We end with Theron going off on his own and ending the whole thing with a resounding defeat at yet more costs to himself. On the whole in Fire and Sword our characters come away from their battles throughout the book very much changed. I’d like to think they come away changed for the better but only time will tell over the following books if that is actually the case.

Next Review will be the Catacombs of Time. A Sword and Sorcery novella by Dylan Doose and the second book in the Sword and Sorcery box set!

See you real soon bookworms

Stephie X.