The Rift Walker by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Just finished reading the Rift Walker, the second in the Greyfriar series by Clay and Susan Griffiths.  Whilst the first book threw us straight into a dark and violent world, where vampires rule and the vast majority of people have become little more than cattle with no sense of hope, the second is a much deeper exploration into the world created and in particular a good look at Princess Adele.  If you haven’t read the first book yet this will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be warned.

The story picks up a few months after the conclusion of The Greyfriar.  Adele has been returned safely to Equatoria where she is being given some time to recover from the ordeal she suffered at the hands of the London vampires.  The plan maybe for Adele to marry Senator Clarke (a marriage that will unite these two countries against their common enemy) but it is the Greyfriar who has caught the attention of the people. They’re desperate for a fairytale romance between their Princess and the dashing swordsman who fearlessly stalks and kills their enemies.  Senator Clark, however, is not to be so easily deterred and he strong-arms the Emperor into setting a date for their nuptials, much against Adele’s wishes.  The wedding date looms and I admit that I think I had as much a sinking feeling about it as Adele.  Things don’t go as planned though and following a dramatic entrance the Greyfriar whisks Adele away under the very nose of her would-be husband and all their guests.   From there onwards the pair have a lengthy journey to make that will take them over some fiercely hot climates and seriously test the Greyfriar’s (otherwise known as Prince Gareth) resolve and also give a bit more weight to why the myth of vampires not liking sunlight might have grown.  They need to get to a more friendly shore and throw themselves upon the mercy of a ruling king who may be prepared to harbour them – there’s no such thing as a free lunch though and any safe haven will undoubtedly have hidden provisos.

I have to admit, and I don’t think of myself as particularly a romance reader, but I do like the romantic elements to this book.  I will quickly just say that they’re not overdone – this is no bodice ripper and there’s no mushy vomit inducing lovey-dovey scenes (so relax on that front).  The main focus of the story is the potential war between Vampires and humans and the role that Adele and Gareth will play in that event.  Basically, I just like the two of them together and it’s interesting to watch the struggles they have to put up with in that respect.  It’s not easy loving a vampire in a vampire hating world!  It’s even less easy to keep a secret when there’s a bunch of geomancers around.  On top of that the very nature of Adele and the magic she seems to  be capable of is almost like a poison to Gareth and adds yet another level of difficulty to their being together and then there’s the element of duty that both of them are so very conscious of.  I thought their relationship really came along in this book.  They have more time together and more dialogue and frankly they can be pretty amusing.

There’s also plenty of travelling with the pair this time around going from Equatoria to Egypt and then further afield where they end up scaling a freezing cold mountain to battle with another clan!  I was particularly interested in the differences between this particular clan and the vampires from London.   

In terms of the characters.  The wonderfully menacing Flay puts in a couple of appearances – as a baddie I have to admit she’s pretty spot on!  Cesare doesn’t have quite as much involvement this time around although his final scenes are pretty shocking.  Adele is becoming a much stronger character and the magic she is working on with Mamoru is developing well but my favourites are without doubt Gareth and Anhalt.  Anhalt is just such a steadfast character that you simply can’t help liking him and Gareth – well, he’s simply Gareth!  In terms of certain other characters who I won’t divulge – there’s a lot of back stabbing taking place here with betrayal quite often where I didn’t expect it.  (And, can I just mention – can everybody please stop getting stabbed!!) 

So, we have plenty of travelling, a little romance and much action.  The story moves forward at a great pace and there are some really dramatic scenes to take in, some of them not shy on bloodshed.  There’s a great combination of steampunk, alternate history and horror but it’s all tempered with the budding romance and the very engaging chemistry between the two characters.  I couldn’t help having a bit of a giggle when Senator Clark and Gareth finally clashed!

I thought this was a great second instalment with a much deeper look into the world created by these two authors.  It ends on a real bombshell but fortunately I already have No.3 waiting to be read.  Happy days.

I received a copy of this from the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Fly my pretties, fly!

Flying Monkeys

This week over at the Fantasy Review Barn Nathan is once again guiding us through the tropes of fantasy in Touch Travels.  This week the topic for discussion is:

FLYING RIDES

Because honestly?  Horses just got boring.  (Thanks to author Anne Leonard for the suggestion).

Surely, surely I’ve read a book with a winged horse – if I have, well, it’s escaped me!  Here are this week’s choices:

Eagles – giant eagles – LoTR by Tolkin.  Why on earth would you walk all the way to Mordor when you could fly – that would have been a ridiculously short book though!

Bats – huge bats (that talk).  Smilers Fair by Rebecca Levine.  

Dragons – Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey – the clue is in the title!  The dragonriders and the dragons share a special bond – and they’re capable of much more than just flight!

Wyverns – The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams – the Narhl people ride on Wyverns – which is actually pretty cool!

‘I think he may let you ride him now’

Buckbeak from the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling

Join us next week for ‘New Beginnings’

Murder by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 29 July 2015

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Murder was one of my books that I’ve had for a while waiting to be read and I’m so pleased that I finally made the time to pick it up.  It’s such a good book.  Really, I don’t think I’ll be able to heap enough praise on it although i’ll certainly give it a good try.  Let the gushing commence!

Murder is the second book in a series by Sarah Pinborough, a series that started with a creepy and dark first instalment called Mayhem.  I think this could be read as a standalone to be honest although I would recommend reading the first in order to get the full measure of the characters involved.  And, if you haven’t read Mayhem then this review will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be aware of that before continuing.

The story starts a few years after the conclusion of Mayhem.  Dr Bond is finally beginning to recover from the events that saw the death of Harrington and has managed to convince himself that the strange monster that he thought he saw at the time was nothing more than a drug induced fantasy.  He’s carved out a comfortable lifestyle for himself and managed to become a firm family favourite with Harrington’s widow and son, in fact he harbours strong hopes of making Juliana his wife (in spite of a rather significant age difference).

Unfortunately, however, the past has no intention of lying quietly to one side and past events are about to be raked over when an old friend of Harrington’s from the US (Kane) visits London to pay the good doctor a visit.  He has a bundle of letters that seem almost crazy, written to him by Harrington, and he wants somebody to look them over and see what they make of the whole thing.

I’m actually not going to go into the plot at all other than the above.  Once again Pinborough manages to write a work of fiction bringing to life real people and events from a period of the past that was particularly scary and once again she provides us with what appears to be two murderers.

What did I really like about this book.  The writing.  It’s simply so very good.  Frankly, I’m a pushover for really good writing and so this was an easy win for me.  Every time I opened the pages I sunk into them and became unaware of everything around me.  I was literally like the fly on the wall watching everything happen – and some of it was damned scary enough for me to want to fly away.  SP paints the scene expertly.  She gives details but doesn’t dump, she captures the era perfectly without being a stickler to it and she absolutely succeeds in bringing her characters to life and giving them real emotions.  You are definitely going to feel for these characters and Pinborough will put you through the emotional wringer along with them.  I really didn’t foresee some of the events that took part and I’m not too proud to say that they left me gobsmacked.  There’s also the perfect evocation of a dirty, smoggy, dark and despairing London where evil seems to lurk in the very mist and sink into the pores of the people travelling the streets.

On top of that the characters.  I think Dr Bond is one of the most compelling characters I’ve read for an age and one that I’ve had the most torn feelings over.  His journey into madness and despair is perfectly riveting.  The other characters are equally good and written in a way that builds them up slowly.  Kane for example, I started off mistrusting him and his thoughts in general and in fact finding him a little offensive at first and I think this was really clever because at the back of your mind you start to assign the character other secrets or see something more sinister about them.

I’m going to stop there as I don’t really want to give anything away other than the fact that I really enjoyed this book.  In fact, for me personally, it surpassed Mayhem.

A totally gripping, horrible, nasty, dark and grimy, chill inducing book with twists and turns aplenty and an excellent finish – which even gives me a tiny hope for something more.  Pretty please.

Read it.  That is all.

I’m submitting this for my Backlist Burndown book over at Tenacious Reader and also I’m adding it as one of my completed series (although secretly I am hoping for more!)

To Read, Perchance to Dream

b2bf5-toptentuesday2

Today over at the Broke and Bookish the Top Ten Tuesday topic for discussion is:

‘Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds’

Characters who love reading as much as we do – win!

  1. Hermione Granger from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Hermione always has her head in a book, she is like the number one student and even has a time twister to allow her to attend more lessons.
  2. Lady Trent from Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons.  Lady Trent is a great character, completely ahead of her time which does rather lead her into trouble with the stiff upper lip sorts.  Determined to find out everything there is to know about dragons and document it her travels become more intrepid and dangerous with each book – plus the covers below!
  3. Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  Kvothe is a fantastic character – he’s determined to join the University, he wants to learn but his main desire is to access the dusty and winding labyrinths of the library.
  4. Simmea from Jo Walton’s Just City.  Simmea loves to learn and philosophise and living in a city based on Plato’s Just City is the perfect place for learning to take place.
  5. Shara from Robert Bennett’s City of Stairs.  Shara is an excellent character who manages to defeat some formidable foe simply from remembering some of the knowledge she has picked up over the years from constant reading.
  6. The Storyteller and Her Sisters by Cheryl Mahoney – a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses with Lyra – the ninth princess who likes to tell stories.
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  ‘Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness’ – he doesn’t always burn those books though!!!!  He saves them from the fire – even though it could mean great loss for him.
  8. Jean Tannen – I couldn’t have a list with the possibility of mentioning Jean and pass it up!  Jean is the best character – I love him!  And he is not only a wise cracking conman and tough guy but he loves books!  The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch.
  9. And my last two books are two that I haven’t got to yet but will do so soon!  The Libriomancer by Jim C Hines – in which characters can magically reach into books and draw out objects – oh yes please!
  10. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – something about the mention of the Great Library of Alexandria – yep, yep, yep, You had me at ‘ink’.  Cannot wait to read this one – lots of excellent reviews from very trustworthy sources make me extra keen.

The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

I don’t know what in the wide wide world is going on but I seem to be on a roll with good books at the moment and Ben Tripp’s Fifth House of the Heart is no exception.

The story revolves around a central character known as Asmodeus Saxon-Tang – thankfully everyone calls him Sax for short!  Sax specialises in obtaining and selling antiques.  This is a business that he not only excels at and has a huge store of knowledge that guides him to pick and choose which pieces are the best to acquire but he’s also grown filthy rich in the process and has gained a certain level of fame (or notoriety).

At the start of the story Sax is bidding on an antique clock, a clock which whilst he started with fairly ambivalent feelings towards it is now growing in interest as he is matched bid for bid by an attractive newcomer who seems very anxious to make it’s purchase.  Of course Sax wins the lot but in doing so he may have just bought himself some very unwelcome attention.  Nonetheless he’s a bit puzzled as to why this rather unassuming clock seems to have generated such interest – well, he’s puzzled right up until somebody breaks into his warehouse and steals it from him, killing his night watchman in the process and giving him an unwelcome trip down memory lane and a cold jolt of realisation!

Basically Sax is in danger.  This is definitely a world in which monsters go bump in the night and the monsters in question are vampires.  Fortunately – most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence as death usually follows swiftly on the heels of those who get wise to their existence.  Vampires are solitary creatures.  They tend to live very isolated existences locked in their mansions and chateaus, brimming with antiques and antiquities many of which are believed to have been lost to the world.  They put you in mind of dragons, sitting atop their wealth, sleeping but always keeping one eye alert to possibilities.

Now, realising his predicament Sax decides to take action – action being the best form of defence.  He’s going to search out his predator but before doing so he pays his favourite niece a visit.  He’s feeling a little guilty about potentially leaving her unprotected and wants to give her the heads up.  Obviously she thinks he’s a little crazy but she listens to his stories and I’m so glad she did because they make for interesting reading.  I won’t elaborate on them here other than to say they’re both different, set in different environments, totally compelling and both with vampires that appear to be entirely different in nature.  The vampires here are unlike those in the myths we already know of.  There is a thin veneer of similarity but there are also some very intriguing new developments – the biggest of which is that vampires are not the undead!   Having regaled his niece with stories to give her nightmares and gifted her a strange object that turns out to be a vampire weapon he leaves.  Sax is gathering about him a crew of mercenaries and having been granted permission by the Church and accompanied by a priest the ‘hunted’ is about to become the ‘hunter’.  At least that’s what he hopes!  Vampires tend to be one step ahead usually, they have all the time in the world so the end game is their ultimate goal.

I really found this an entertaining read.  I liked the characters – well, Sax in particular just steals the show.  The surrounding cast are a little more flimsy but still provide good support and anyway it would be impossible to upstage Sax.  Put simply he’s a flamboyant, outrageous and self absorbed man and an unashamed coward to boot.

So, what did I really enjoy.  Well, the writing is really good.  Tripp manages to set the scene perfectly either from dusty chateau, damp and creepy cave to vampire laboratory!  Yep, be intrigued.  There are some great scenes where the mercenaries hide from hideous vampire hunters and a grand finale where the tension mounts and on top of this Tripp manages to inject humour here and there which prevents things becoming too heavy.  Plus a twist at the end that I certainly didn’t see coming.

A great mash up of olde worlde vampire a la Dracula, meets Indiana Jones (albeit wickedly flamboyant) surrounded by evil and assisted by a motley crew of odd misfits.

There is definitely potential for more from this world and I seriously hope there will be further additions.

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