Tag Archives: adventure

Book Review: Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage

Glynn Stewart's Starship's Mage
Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage

Leo Champion described Glynn Stewart to me as one of the best authors he’s had the experience of working with. Since I also work with Leo, I took that as a bit of a challenge to step up my game, but as a reader, it made me want to check out what Glynn has written, particularly since he seems to be reading my blog and writing book reviews about my stuff.

I’m happy to say I haven’t been disappointed. Glynn Stewart’s Space Opera/Fantasy novel, Starship’s Mage, is excellent. The main character, Damien, is engaging and interesting and Glynn has created a fascinating world, one where technology and magic coexist in a science fiction setting, much like another of my favorite author’s works: Ryk Spoor.

The trials and tribulations of young Damien are vast and varied, as he tries to fix one problem only to create three more in the process. Damien is smart (possibly too smart for his own good), and he is hard working and a loyal friend. He’s also painfully naïve and far too eager to please, which make fun character flaws in a character as powerful as a wizard can be.

Overall, the book definitely feels like the first book of a planned “epic” series. While young Damien grows powerful, we still see that not only does he have limits, but those limits are profound compared to his opponents. The other characters, from ship’s officers to pirates are robust and rewarding in their own ways and in general, it was a fun read.

That isn’t to say it is a “perfect” book. There were a few minor gramatical errors (less, in fact, than some books I’ve recently read from major publishers), but there was also a nagging repetition where some things would be explained multiple times. I can understand the urge, in case the reader wasn’t paying attention, but for me, it actually broke my immersion a little bit as some of the technology and universe was explained once and then again, right before it became pertinent to the story. That said, it’s a very minor pet peeve in a book that I really enjoyed.  (Further note: I hadn’t realized it was originally released as novellas, so it suffers from the same problem as my own Renegades: Origins, so disregard)

My only question, at the end of it, is what do you call this genre? Space Fantasy sounds… trite and doesn’t adequately describe it. It feels like “Hard” fantasy, where the magic has rules and the story revolves as much around those rules as the characters. Science Fantasy just sounds odd. Whatever it is, it’s fun, fast, and enjoyable.

You can pick it up here from Amazon.

In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Magi, Damien Montgomery is a newly graduated member of their number.
With no family or connections to find a ship, he is forced to service on an interstellar freighter known to be hunted by pirates.
When he takes drastic action to save the Blue Jay from their pursuers, he sets in motion a sequence of events beyond his control – and attracts enemies on both sides of the law!

Starship’s Mage was originally released as five separate episodes.

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Book Review: Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes

How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick
How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick

Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes is a space opera, adventure science fiction novel from Baen Books. I’ll admit that I was somewhat dubious about a “new” author, but I quickly became fully absorbed in the story of Sasha Naradnyo.

At first glance he is an utterly reprehensible character: he’s a mid-level crime boss who makes money from running gambling rackets and drugs. Yet this is a universe where humans survive on the margins of society, where they are welcome only in areas of brute labor, violence, and crime. Sasha is only a criminal because it is the only way for him to rise… but he also gives back in the form of funding a local hospital and protecting those he can from the harsh universe.

We don’t see much of Sasha as a criminal, instead, we come to him as he transitions, forced out of his previous life and into a wider world as he shows his true colors by protecting two children and their keeper. The writing is fast-paced and the universe is gritty and everything about it feels like one of the noir crime detective novels.

It is a fantastic read from a great author. I went from hating the main character to giving him a grudging respect that surprised me. Frank Chadwick doesn’t pull any punches, he delves into the darkness of his universe, taking his characters and putting them through the wringer and making it very clear from the beginning that no one – not even the main character – is safe.

I’ll note, this isn’t a book I would read when I’m in a dark mood. It’s gritty and in your face, not a cheerful or inspirational story, but one with a world-weary main character who has almost everything stripped from him.

The exciting debut of a nonstop noir SF from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.  With one single act of kindness, a tough-as-nails hood with a heart of gold saves two alien children from assassination—and resets the balance of galactic power in the process.

Sasha Naradnyo is a gangster.  He’s a gangster with heart, sure, but Sasha sticks his neck out for no man.  That’s how you stay alive in Crack City, a colony stuffed deep into the crust of the otherwise unlivable planet Peezgtaan.  Alive only—because if you’re human, you don’t prosper, at least not for long.  Sasha is a second generation City native. His parents came to this rock figuring to make it big, only to find that they’d been recruited as an indentured labor force for alien overlords known as the Varoki.

Now a pair of rich young Varoki under the care of a beautiful human nanny are fleeing Peezgtaan, and Sasha is recruited to help.  All things considered, he’d rather leave the little alien lordlings to their fate, but certain considerations—such as Sasha’s own imminent demise if he remains—make it beneficial for him to take on the job.

But Sasha discovers his simple choice has thrust him into the midst of a political battle that could remake the galactic balance of power and save humanity from slow death by servitude.  Now all he has to do is survive and keep his charges alive on a hostile planet undergoing its own revolution.

But it’s the galaxy that had better watch out.  For now the toughest thug in Crack City has gotten his first taste of real freedom. He likes it, and wants more.

The stunning debut of a nonstop science fiction noir thriller from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.

You can find it here on Amazon

Odin’s Eye Snippet Two

Here’s the second snippet for Odin’s Eye, coming this weekend!  Odin’s Eye is the sequel to Fenris Unchained and a novel in the Star Portal Universe.  You can find the first snippet here.

Time: 1200 Zulu, 24 June 291 G.D.

Location: Bliskin Station, Hanet System

 

“Yep,” Mike Majors nodded as he pointed out exterior damage to the ship’s forward ring, “That’ll need some repairs.”

It was a bit of an understatement, in Mel’s opinion. Having experienced the wrenching sensation of the off-balance warp drive, she would have said both damaged rings would have needed to be replaced. Their surfaces were covered in emitters designed to warp space… many of those emitters were damaged, out of alignment, or simply destroyed.

“I was hoping to get some upgrades,” Fenris said, his voice a gravelly baritone.

Majors didn’t even bat an eye at being addressed by the AI… which made Mel wonder just how many Guard laws that the Mercenary Guild bent or outright broke out here at Blisken Station where people paid extra to keep their secrets.

“That’s entirely possible,” Majors said. “Now, just off-hand I’d say it looks like you’re equipped with Tango-Seventeen drive field emitters, which were top of the line back a hundred years ago, but we can probably either upgrade or entirely replace them with something like X-Ray-Elevens.

“They’re the same series of emitters so we wouldn’t need to replace any power conduits or do any hull redesign. It would keep your drive field depth and give you even better speed at strategic warp, you’d be a match for most current military craft.”

“You have a good eye,” Fenris said. “Most humans don’t realize how deep a drive field I have.”

Mel rolled her eyes at that. She wasn’t certain whether the ship or the engineer was trying harder to flatter the other… either way, she knew it was going to cost the group money as the two worked each other over for more options.

“Oh, yeah,” Majors said. “I could tell that from just a glance. What I’m really interested in, is whether you’re satisfied with those disruptor cannon; they’re Mark Thirteens out of the Preserve, right?”

Like other engineers she had met, Majors wore a headset with an eyepiece that scrolled information to him. Mel could see ghostly text flit across it too fast for her to read anything.

“Yes,” Fenris growled. “Truthfully, I don’t think they provide the full output that they had on their specifications.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’d heard,” Majors said. “I also heard that they’re subject to projector failure when they’re fired in rapid sequence.”

“You know, I thought that was just a malfunction in my secondary systems, but that would explain the drop in rate of fire,” Fenris said.

Mel shook her head; this was about to get very expensive. She jotted down new main armament, even before Majors answered.

“Well, we’ve actually got some of their Mark Twenty-Fives in stock, pulled them off… well, I can’t really say what I pulled them off,” he winked conspiratorially at Mel, “but I’ve got a full set of those, which should be as easy as a one-for-one swap. There’s still a healthy market for the Mark Thirteens, so it wouldn’t cost much beyond installation and a bit of overhead. The Mark Twenty-Fives will give you a significant boost in firepower.”

It was a long moment before Fenris spoke, “I’ve looked at the specifications for the Twenty-Fives, I like that idea. What do you think about my power systems?”

“Well,” Major said after a glance at his eyepiece, “I’d say that they’re pretty solid. Power output is limited, but we could probably boost it with some…”

 

 

Time: 1400 Zulu, 25 June 291 G.D.

Location: Bliskin Station, Hanet System

 

“This looks like it’s going to be expensive,” Marcus said as he looked over Mel’s notes from the day before. “New drive emitters, new main armament, upgrades to the power systems, new secondary armament, and some defense upgrade options as well…”

Fenris’ growl answered him, “I’m worth it.”

“We know you are,” Mel said, “It’s just that we don’t know how much money we’ll have to do all this yet.”

She didn’t miss Marcus’s derisive snort; he thought letting Bob arrange things was tantamount to setting them all up to be murdered for their money or turned in to the Guard for a bounty.

“I offered to launder the money,” Fenris growled. “For that matter, I think I could probably simply hack…”

Mel held up her hands, “We talked about that, Fenris; the one place someone is guaranteed to notice hacking is when you start messing with money. Even just moving it around, someone is bound to notice. If you take it from accounts, even inactive accounts, they’ll notice sooner.” The last thing they wanted was anyone realizing there was a rogue AI on the loose.

“Fine,” Fenris said, “but I’d like repairs to begin soon.”

“They will,” Mel said. She didn’t mention how the ship had spent the past century making do with what it could manage on its own. The AI seemed to have exhausted much of his patience when he realized his freedom. At least he still values human life, she thought.

“I’d like to test my new systems out against an appropriate target after repairs are complete,” Fenris growled. “Maybe a pirate?”

Mostly values human life, she corrected herself. It seemed that like most men, Fenris wanted to play with his shiny new toys, even before he had them. “I’m certain we’ll figure something out.”

She looked around, “Bob left already?” The spy would have to physically travel to the Chrysalis system to make contact with the criminals he wanted to use to launder money.

That, in turn, meant that they had to use some of the cash to pay for his travel, as well as the travel of whoever went later after he set things up. Someone would have to carry the data codes for the money transfer and they would definitely want some backup and an escort of some kind. Probably Brian and Marcus, maybe me as well, she thought.

“He and Lace left this morning,” Marcus said. “I figure we’ll head out once it’s all set up. You bring the codes, Brian and I will back you up.” He didn’t bother to hide his suspicion of the agent. In his opinion Bob was just as untrustworthy as anyone else.

“We get a total value, yet?” Mel asked.

“Total account value is seventy-seven million, five hundred and thirty-four thousand, nine hundred and eighty-two Guard dollars,” Fenris said. “Though the exact value varies dependent upon exchange rates for the accounts in the Harmony Protectorate.”

Mel gave a low whistle, “That is a lot of money.”

She wasn’t certain about the going rate in the Harmony Protectorate. She knew they were a semi-autonomous collection of four systems that operated with a modified colonial charter under the UN Security Council… but still technically part of Guard Space. She hadn’t dealt much with them, since they had ruinous trade tariffs for foreign vessels.

Plus, she thought, there’s been a lot of ships disappearing out that way and even Vagyr’s pirates can’t account for all of them. It wouldn’t surprise her to hear that someone in the Protectorate was sheltering pirates.

Marcus grimaced, “I’m sure it won’t be nearly as much after we launder it. Standard cut for something like this is upwards of thirty percent.”

“Thirty percent?!” Mel demanded. “That’s extortionate!”

Marcus grinned, “It’s stolen money, so… yeah, it is extortionate. The kind of people we’re dealing with won’t do this from the goodness of their hearts and it costs them a pretty penny to do what they do. They’ll have to funnel the money through a dozen worlds, exchange it for bearer bonds or cash in transit and then funnel it back along the way. This much money, spread across a dozen worlds and systems, it’s going to take a lot of time and work. Plus they’ll probably have to bribe a few customs agents and several senior bank executives to hide those transactions.”

Mel just shook her head, “Still, thirty percent…” She hadn’t thought herself that attached to the money, but to see a third of it disappear so easily left her reeling.

“We’ll get cash to pay for some of the repairs, maybe enough left over to work some cover identities for us all, probably not enough to get a solid ID for you and I, though.”

Mel nodded at that. It seemed to be something of a fixation for Marcus, yet she couldn’t blame him. Without a new, solid identity, they were ghosts in the system. They weren’t free to move about any world, to step aboard any civilized space station, really, to accomplish anything. “We’ll have to register Fenris, too,” she said, “and pay for a Guild Charter if that’s what we’re going to do.”

“If we’re going to stay in civilized space I guess it’s our best option,” Marcus said. She didn’t miss the disapproval in his voice though. He didn’t like that option and he hadn’t yet explained why.

She looked down at her list and the preliminary estimates. Given how their funds were about to shrink, she didn’t know if they would have the money. Certainly they wouldn’t have the money for everything. So where could they afford to cut corners?

It wasn’t a question she could answer. For now, she just hoped Marcus was wrong about the going rate for money launderers.

 

The Prodigal Emperor Now Available for Pre-order!

I’m excited to announce that The Prodigal Emperor, book III of The Shadow Space Chronicles will go live on September 19th, 2015.  This is the third book of the series and concludes the starting trilogy.  I’ll be posting some snippets and samples on the blog soon!

Baron Lucius Giovanni has done the impossible: not only has he held the alien Chxor at bay, he has taken the fight to them and liberated human worlds.  Yet humanity’s implacable foe has drawn a line in the sand.  They will hold Nova Roma at all costs… or see it a scorched ruin.
Lucius must aid Nova Roma’s Emperor and liberate his homeworld, but along the way he must also deal with old and new adversaries and with a conspiracy that seeks to usurp control of his fleet.
 
Nova Roma’s Emperor is going home, and Lucius will go beside him, for if he cannot overcome these obstacles, then humanity’s last hope will be overcome and the Chxor will enslave and exterminate the remaining free worlds.
The Prodigal Emperor is available on Amazon for pre-order here and will be published on September 19th, 2015.

Echo of the High Kings Book Sale

Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga
Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga

Just a friendly reminder that you can pick up my book, Echo of the High Kings, on sale this weekend for only .99 cents.  That’s four dollars off the normal price and as a bonus, the next book will be along in only two weeks.  So if you’ve been hesitating to pick it up, you have two great reasons to pick it up today and read it this weekend!  If you’ve already read it, tell your friends about it and let them know!

In Eoriel, the High Kings are legend: rulers who once stood against the darkness and ruled the world for two thousand turns of peace and prosperity. In the long turns since their fall during the Sundering, Eoriel’s civilization has faded. Dark men and darker beings have torn down and destroyed the old works. While some have held out against the grind of history, other places have been reduced to primitive tribes of savages, worshiping dark spirits and demons as their gods.

Yet a spark of hope remains. Some still believe in the old legends, some still fight to restore the old ways, and some will stand against the darkness, in an echo of the High Kings.

Echo of the High Kings

Upcoming Echo of the High Kings Book Sale!

Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga
Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga

Echo of the High Kings will be going on sale for the weekend in preparation for the release of the sequel, Wrath of the Usurper.  Echo of the High Kings will be available from 15-17 May for only .99 cents.  So if you’ve been on the fence about picking it up, now you’ve got no reason to hesitate.

In Eoriel, the High Kings are legend: rulers who once stood against the darkness and ruled the world for two thousand turns of peace and prosperity. In the long turns since their fall during the Sundering, Eoriel’s civilization has faded. Dark men and darker beings have torn down and destroyed the old works. While some have held out against the grind of history, other places have been reduced to primitive tribes of savages, worshiping dark spirits and demons as their gods.

Yet a spark of hope remains. Some still believe in the old legends, some still fight to restore the old ways, and some will stand against the darkness, in an echo of the High Kings.

Echo of the High Kings

Fenris Unchained

Fenris Unchained

 

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

 

My latest novel, Fenris Unchained, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.