Tag Archives: Ryk Spoor

Review: Phoenix In Shadow

Phoenix in ShadowPhoenix in Shadow is the sequel to Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising. The first book introduced the main characters and gave the reader some idea of the level of threat (as well as capabilities) of the heroes and some of the antagonists. What Phoenix in Shadow did was blow all this up. The villains are shown to be that much more powerful, the threats the world faces are all the more terrible, and the heroes have to step up their game or face the consequences.

The great part about this is that we see the consequences of the heroes actions magnified. The not so great thing is that the tension is ratcheted up to the point that it becomes a little too intense at times.

Again, Ryk Spoor delivers what he’s great at. We have heroes whose actions matter and who stand up to defend those in need. More than that, we see opportunities for redemption for those who struggle against the evil within themselves. The villains are powerful, sometimes incredibly so, but they are still motivated by real emotions and motives.

Power and the effect it has upon those who possess it is a strong theme in both the book and the series. The difference between the good and bad people in these books is not only how they use the power they have, but also how they go about obtaining more… or even if they dare to do so.

My one complaint would be that some of the action sequences towards the end felt a bit… anime-esque. I enjoyed them, but at times I couldn’t help but feel the action was too big, the energy dealt with was too much.

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising and as a sequel, Phoenix in Shadow had large boots to fill. It did that, and more, it brought a level of adulthood to the characters that they didn’t have before. They were faced with evil darker than they had before seen and they grew as a result.

Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix in Shadow


When Kyri Vantage, Phoenix Justiciar of Myrionar, with the help of her companions Tobimar Silverun of Skysand and the unexpectedly dangerous little Toad, Poplock Duckweed, defeated monstrous killer Thornfalcon and unmasked a conspiracy of treacherous False Justiciars, she knew the job was only partly done. A dark power stirs on the far side of the terrifying Rivendream Pass. Now, as the world shudders at the arrival of the Black City, of the King of All Hells, Kyri, Tobimar, and Poplock must venture beyond Rivendream Pass and into Moonshade Hollowa place from which none have ever returned. What they find there will challenge everything they believe in and conceals a menace they cannot imagine.

Review: Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising

Phoenix RisingRyk Spoor’s epic fantasy, Phoenix Rising, is unique in a lot of ways. For one thing, it is tied into several of his other works (most notably, Digital Knight/Paradigms Lost). If you’ve read some of his other books, it’s neat to see how things are connected.

The story seems simple enough, at its base: a young woman sets out in pursuit of justice after the murder of her family. The twists and turns, the betrayals and friendships are what make the story stand out, even as the richness of the universe is what makes the whole series worthwhile.

The world he created is full and rich with both characters and places, with a history and mythos that has as much to do with the story as the present day actions of characters. Most impressive, in some ways, is how real some of his characters seem based upon their motivations and actions, no matter how outlandish they are in other ways.

My favorite, I must confess, is Poplock Duckweed, an intelligent toad. Whereas other heroes in the book have superhuman strength, magical weapons, or arcane might, or even some combination thereof, Poplock makes due with his wits and his slight size.

One reason I like Ryk Spoor’s fantasy books is that the heroes are men and women (and toads) who take a stand for what they believe in. They go out and confront evil. While this might seem simplistic, it isn’t to say there aren’t all levels of other characters, good, bad, and everything in between. Against the dark and gray characters, his heroes shine all the brighter. To top this off, the humor and action are both top notch and the story is complex enough to keep you guessing right up until the end. If you haven’t read Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising, you definitely need to pick it up.

Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising

Kyri: a highborn young woman whose life is shattered by the murder of her kin. But even as Kyri flees her beloved land Evanwyl, she knows that she is her family’s only hope for justice, and Evanwyl’s only chance to escape a growing shadow of corruption and destruction.

Now Kyri must venture across Zarathan, a world on the brink of a long foretold Chaos War. It is a struggle that may usher in a long age of darkness— that is, if Kyri and her companions do not succeed in holding back the tide of evil that is rising. Those companions include valiant swordsman Tobimar Silverun, Prince of Skysand, exiled on the turn of a card and a prophecy, who is now seeking his people’s lost homeland; and Poplock Duckweed, an unlikely hero whose diminutive size is as much a weapon as it is a weakness.

Kyri’s quest is as simple as it is profound: find a legendary ancient weaponsmith, take up the sword and armor of a new order of warrior defenders, and bring the power of justice and vengeance to the evil and corruption that has darkened her native land.

50 Shades of Polychrome

PolychromeThis is a guest blog from Amanda at Capitol Cat Editing in for Kal this week.

My latest read has been Polychrome by Ryk E. Spoor.  This book is a combination of fantasy, fanfic, romance, and action.  The author does several things well; like capturing the rhythm and syntax style of L. Frank Baum, the imagination and magic of Oz, and paying homage to the characters Ozites have come to adore.  Spoor also references many other cult classics and will inspire many geek moments for his readers.  His vocabulary is also delightfully versatile and refreshing.  My chief complaints are more matters of opinion versus any grievous errors in plot, theme, or overall ability — with one exception: sexuality.  The theme of redemption is very well done and definitely contributed to some of the best parts of the book.

Spoor is clearly a hardcore Ozite.  He references details from most of Baum’s original Oz books.  He maintains a true portrayal of the characters of Dorothy Gale, Ozma, Iris Mirabilis, the Pink Bear, Ugu, and several others.  I would say his portrayal of the title character, Polychrome, is 90% true to her original characterization by Baum.  The other 10% is a bit off to me because the progression of Polychrome from innocent to experienced adult is a bit…vague.  Considering how much the book is supposed to be focused on Polychrome, I think a bit too much of it is from the perspective of the other main character, Erik Medon.  You get glimpses of Polychrome’s emotions and experiences, but there is room for more depth to her character.  Erik Medon might be a bit hard for some readers to relate to since he is a middle aged male geek living out a childhood fantasy.

This brings me to where I feel Spoor might have crossed a line — albeit a faint one.  Having a 50 something male protagonist (more of a co-protagonist) automatically targets readers of a certain age.  The adventures in Oz as written by Baum were originally written for children.  Granted, the expectations of children’s literature from the early 20th century to present day have shifted a bit, I feel that Spoor missed the mark.  Modern children’s books and films can have adult content — but it is usually of an ambiguous sort.  Children reading the books/watching the films don’t usually pick up on the adult humor or sexual references.  I feel Spoor walks a fine line with this topic.  Erik Medon’s observations of the figures and physical attributes of female characters are a bit distasteful.  I feel the book could still be a well done progression from the Oz books read as a child to one read as an adult by an adult for an adult without these references.  I had a hard time continuing with the book after the scene where Erik had to show Polychrome something of such beauty as to make her dance.  The build up felt like a Leeloo and Korben Dallas moment.  Although the author took you down a different path, it felt like a bit of a “pink” herring.

Mr. Spoor does an excellent job of representing the themes of hope and redemption.  By showing repentance in some of the major villains from some of Baum’s classic books, he does justice to the ideals that Baum instilled in his readers while still putting his own twists in there.  The idea that hope is always there, no matter the odds, is one of the most powerful messages of the book.

Erik Medon is painted as your average adult male geek.  Yet, there is supposed to be something so exceptional about him that he is selected for this adventure.  While Spoor doesn’t do a poor job of characterizing Medon, there is room for a more solid case as to why he is the hero.  I feel that a bit of a test that he passed when no other did — like in The Last Starfighter by Alan Dean Foster — could have set him apart from the average better than waiting until the last few chapters to reveal the couple of things that made him the One.

Was the book worth reading?  Yes.  Could there have been some more depth to it?  Yes.  Would Baum like it?  Yes and no.