Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Night of Wolves by David Dalglish

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

What does friendship mean?

Is it sticking up for your cohorts in time of need? Is it putting aside differences and trying to find a common ground? Is it a solemn smile or a firm slap across the face when the other starts to stray? Is it setting aside your own fears and convictions, even though everything about you says to get away, because deep down you just trust this person, for better or worse?

These are the questions David Dalglish asks in Night of Wolves, the first book in his new Paladins series.

With this series, it seems Dalglish is going down a Memento path when it comes to his characters’ stories – aka going backward. This particular book is the tale of Jerico, the paladin of Ashhur we first met (and fell in love with) in The Death of Promises. Wolves takes a few years before the events in the Half-Orc series, and introduces a major plot point that those who’ve digested Dalglish’s work might find unbelievable.

A friendship between paladins of the two polar gods, Ashhur and Karak.

Jerico, it seems, has befriended a young man named Darius while both are stationed in the farming town of Durham, preaching the messages of their particular religions. Theirs is a relationship built upon mutual respect – they learn from each other, protect each other, help each other grow…the gods be damned. And when the wolf-men from the Vile Wedge start crossing the river, threatening the lives of the townsfolk, they must work together even more so than before, which causes just a few moral dilemmas within each of them. But work together they do, because they both realize that without their combined strength, the good men and women of Durham don’t stand a chance.

There are interesting threads all around in this book, such as a new leader rising to lead the pack of wolf-men: Redclaw, a powerful foe with the desire to pull a Moses, bringing his people out of the dead landscape of the Wedge to enter the lush, bountiful forests that lie just out of their reach. There is also the fall of the Citadel, which occurs from afar, the repercussions of which are hinted at, and are haunting. Finally, there is the concluding battle, as the wolf-men gather together and assault the human forces in what is a greatly realized battle sequence.

But none of these threads can compare with Jerico and Darius. They steal the show, and as often happens in Dalglish’s novels, their quiet scenes together are magical. These are two men who grow to love each other over the course of the book, and that brotherly bond is something beautiful to behold. As usual, the author’s asking a philosophical question that not many others do – in this case, can we ever shove the veil of faith out of the way and see our brothers and sisters for what they truly are: fellow human beings, just as deserving of love as any other.

There are many surprisingly tender moments to be seen, and these aspects are what I appreciate the most. On the bad side, some of the battle scenes early on are ho-hum, to the point where I had to fight the desire to skim and turn the page, saying, “Just give me more Jerico and Darius, dammit!” However, I can’t decide if that’s because they really are subpar, or if it’s because the interplay between those two characters is so brilliantly done that everything else seems unimportant. No matter, though, because as I said, Dalglish pulls it out in the end, and the attack (and defense) of Durham is truly a sight to behold, equaling (though not surpassing) those more tender moments

Reading Night of Wolves is a fantastic experience. It’s short and to the point, filled with just about everything I love about the author’s work. It’s dark yet filled with hope, brutal yet compassionate. The words he weaves captivates, pulling us in and making us care about these people. The story is chock-full of metaphor, of the questions of what moral belief is correct, if there’s a correct one at all. This is one point I’m not going to harp on in this review, however, for I’m sure I’ll have plenty of things to say on that very subject when the next book comes out in a couple months.

Once again, I fully recommend Night of Wolves. You’ll enjoy seeing friends and enemies, old and new, and be intrigued by just how the ungodly mess Jerico and Darius have gotten into will resolve itself. It’s an oddity: an edge-of-your-seat fantasy thrill ride and quiet literary piece all rolled into one.

You’d be hard pressed to come up with a better read.

Plot - 9

Characters - 10

Voice - 10

Execution - 8

Personal Enjoyment – 9

Overall – 46/50 (4.6/5)

Purchase Dance of Wolves in ebook format from:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: Anomaly by Thea Atkinson

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

When I received Anomaly by Thea Atkinson as a review copy, I set it aside, pretty much uninterested. I accepted it because the sample was well written, but I was deep into a new fascination with fantasy and other genre fiction at that time, and thought to myself, I don’t really like literary fiction, so this one can wait a while…let me enjoy myself first.

Well, recently I glanced at my to-be-read pile, saw that book still sitting there, and decided it had waited long enough. And when I started reading, all I could think was that I should’ve gotten around to it sooner. It surprised me in so many ways.

Anomaly is the story of J, a ne’er-do-well transgender/recovering drug addict living in rural Nova Scotia. This book doesn’t have so much of a plot in the traditional sense; it’s more an exploration of what it means to be J, taking place during a few tough, stressful, and let’s face it, downright depressing days out of his/her life. No, existence is not easy for our J, who has a big mouth and a bit of a masochistic streak. J’s struggles with his/her sexual identity create a character who’s constantly on the edge of darkness, questioning what it means to be man, to be woman, to be both, or to be nothing at all.

While recovering from a particularly brutal beating, J begins to worry about his/her neighbor, whose colicky baby has suddenly stopped crying. In a feat of humanity uncommon for J (and most addicts, really), he/she strikes up a protective relationship with said neighbor,, a young woman and fellow addict who (hard as it is to believe) is actually more pathetic than J.

The bulk of the story takes place in J’s apartment and a local bar, and we get to meet his/her friend Molly, a boisterous lesbian who, herself, has far-too-long-ignored substance-abuse issues. There is also a kind nurse who is a welcomed voice of reason to the rest of the characters’ insanity, who forms a quite beautiful bond with J and ends up being a lynchpin for suggested further growth, development, healing, and self-discovery.

It might seem like I’m making fun of this book and what lies inside, but I’m truly not. When I call the characters pathetic, it’s because that’s the way Atkinson created them – and purposefully so. Having known quite a few addicts throughout my life, I found their portrayal both accurate and heartbreaking, though not without a sliver of hope. But what I appreciated most of all were the reasons for this addiction, for J in particular. I have no idea what it’s like to not know my gender, to one day know I’m a man and the next know, just as strongly, that I’m a woman. But I can imagine how much pressure that must place on an individual, socially as well as emotionally. Like it or not, we have some pretty strict public codes of conduct in this world when it comes to gender roles, and for those who choose (or have no choice in the matter) to buck them end up paying a high mental and physical cost.

This novel is told in first-person, from J’s viewpoint, and we the reader get to hear his/her thoughts on so many subjects – from the nature of religious icons to the contradictory messages of the LGBT community to how pitiable the life of an addict really is. He/she’s a very reliable source of information, for no matter how screwed up J might be, he/she still has his/her head on straight…mostly. So when J latches onto a single phrase, one used to describe the reasons her neighbor’s baby was taken away, those words gain that much more importance and a new, particularly foreboding meaning.

Failure to thrive.

That phrase is repeated over and over again, and really, that’s what Anomaly is all about. It’s the story of how incomplete we are as people – all of us – and how our standard definitions, though they might help keep things tucked neatly in little boxes, often times hurt us more than anything. It’s about the malfunction of the concept of love and how often we don’t know what that word means. It’s about caring for others more than ourselves, and realizing that when doing so we completely disregard the fact we must care for ourselves, lest every action we make means nothing.

But most of all, it’s the story of life, of the struggle to survive in a world that really has no one’s best interest in mind, a world that, in effect, makes it difficult for anyone to thrive. In that way Anomaly is a difficult and occasionally stomach-churning read. But it’s a learning experience, and very much worth the investment of time.

I’m glad I invested mine.

Plot - 9

Characters - 10

Voice - 10

Execution - 9

Personal Enjoyment – 9

Overall – 47/50 (4.7/5)

Purchase Anomaly in ebook format from:

Monday, June 6, 2011

BOOK RELEASE - Night of Wolves by David Dalglish

That's right folks: David Dalglish, author of the Half-Orc and Shadowdance series, has started yet another series, this one chronicling the trials and travails of the paladins, both dark and light, that appear in his other books. Here's a look at the first installment, Night of Wolves.


"The humans are weak. Their skin is soft, and their minds dull from years of safety. We are the vicious. We are the destroyers. Come the full moon, when our goddess watches our victory, we will taste of their blood!"


Wolf-men, savage creatures given humanoid form in an ancient war, mass along the Gihon River. Led by their packleader Redclaw, they seek to cross the river and claim a land of their own, slaughtering those that would stand in their way. Two paladins, Jerico of the god Ashhur, and Darius of the god Karak, must helm the desperate defense against the invasion. Their friendship will be tested as their gods resume an unending war, and their very faiths call for the death of the other. Together, friend or foe, they must face Redclaw's horde.

NIGHT OF WOLVES by David Dalglish
Can faith remain when the gods call for blood?


David Dalglish currently lives in rural Missouri with his wife Samantha, daughter Morgan, and snake, Velixar. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in Mathematics and currently spends his free time watching Spongebob Squarepants with his daughter.

Night of Wolves is currently available in ebook format for the rock-bottom price of 99¢ at Amazon and Amazon UK.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Inexpensive Kindle Books - EYE OF THE WIZARD $2.99


Average Rating: 4.6


by Daniel Arenson

On the longest night of the year, a dark wizard murders a knight and his wife.

The knight's children survive and swear revenge. Sam and Jamie vow to become knights like their father. Neev, the middle child, vows to become a wizard.

Five years later, things look grim. Sam is useless with the sword. Jamie is denied knighthood because she's a girl. Neev cannot cast a spell without growing donkey ears, a monkey tail, or an elephant trunk. The siblings feel like failures.

That's when the dark wizard strikes again.

Are the siblings powerful enough to defeat him? Or will they too die at his hands?

Purchase Eye of the Wizard for $2.99 at