Blog Awards Ireland Update – Shortlisted!

blog awards irelandGood news! The 2014 shortlist for Best Arts & Culture Blog  has been released and I’m on it!

I’m genuinely delighted and fingers crossed for a finalist spot, but it’s a pretty impressive list so I won’t get my hopes up, but either way I’m happy to have gotten this far in the competition. Thanks again to all my readers and authors who have supported me so far.

Eamon

 

Book Review: The Other Of One by Brian G. Burke

otherThe Other Of One is the first part of a new fantasy series from Irish debut author Brian G. Burke suitable for middle grade / early teens upwards. Set in Ireland, it tells the story of a young boy William Muldoon who finds himself unwittingly transported to a magical underground world, populated by all manner of strange and wonderful creatures called the Dwelvin Mites. He soon learns that his presence there is no coincidence and that he has been chosen to help them fight against an evil supernatural tyrant the Pooka, Drevol Briggun, a Wrythunn warrior who has driven them underground away from their beautiful home Lythiann.

William discovers that he is a reincarnation of the only other remaining Wrythunn, Mysun Margle and must find some way of channelling his powers and defeating Briggun or not only the Dwelvin Mites, but all those he loves will be destroyed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. Irish folklore tends to be a bit one-sided and tired, but Burke has done something wonderful here. The world he has created is a fantastic blend of traditional Irish folklore mixed with that of other cultures and those of his own imagination, populated by a veritable smorgasbord of magical and wondrous creatures. The landscapes are richly textured and intricately described, often beautiful, often dangerous, always wondrous. The sheer scale of the world the author has created is remarkable and it’s a fitting playground for the saga that quickly unfolds.

What makes The Other Of One all the more enjoyable are the characters introduced to William as he makes his life-changing journey. I’ll admit I cringed a little when a leprechaun made an appearance, but Burke does a great job of making even a tired Irish stereotype fresh and funny and as the tale progresses, each new character becomes as entertaining as the last. The dialogue is snappy and fun, serious when needed and poignant when least expected. Friendships are formed, loyalties tested and bravery is found in the most unlikely of places as William and his friends face all manner of peril on their quest.

The writing is impressive for a debut author, hugely imaginative, drawing from obvious sources like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll and while it may follow some of the conventions of the genre, it rapidly develops its own voice. Burke is clearly comfortable in the world he has crafted and portrays a confidence rarely seen in someone developing a narrative this ambitious. The pace rarely falters and builds nicely to the introduction of book two, which teases some epic events.

Currently available at only 99c/ £0.77p from Amazon, if mythical fantasy with a modern attitude is your bag, this book is an absolute steal. My only complaint is that it’s worth ten times that. 

Eamon Ambrose

Book Review: The Circuit: Executor Rising by Rhett C. Bruno

the-circuit-executor-risingSpace operas generally aren’t my thing. They tend to be complicated, over-ambitious, and convoluted with vast plot gaps and two-dimensional characters. But a change is as good as a rest so I decided to take a look at Rhett C. Bruno’s The Circuit: Executor Rising as a palate cleanser.

Set in the distant future, Earth is now a barren wasteland devoid of life and mankind has moved to the stars, populating planets, moons and even asteroids in the solar system connected by The Kepler Circuit, a group of conduit stations allowing solar ark transport between them.

A dangerous religious sect, The New Earth Tribunal, rules most of what remains with all but a few factions left to defy them. A series of attacks on their ships, carrying Gravitum, a powerful element discovered in Earth’s now highly unstable mantle leads them to call on a former member Cassius Vale to investigate. As we soon discover, Vale has plans of his own for the Gravitum and has orchestrated these attacks with the help of ADIM, a lethal and unstoppable android created by him.

The Tribunal have also sent Sage Volus, an Executor to infiltrate a gang of mercenaries they suspect are behind the attacks led by Talon Rayne, a former miner forced into servitude after killing a co-worker in a brawl.

I was pleasantly surprised by Bruno’s ability to drop us into this world with very little backstory. I didn’t expect the world building to be as effective as it was but the structure of The Circuit and its inhabitants and political and religious background is easy to understand. As a main character, Cassius Vale is brilliant, enigmatic and devious and as his plan is revealed throughout the cleverly-woven plot we see the true nature of his endeavours. Sage Volus, is a tough yet multi-faceted character, struggling with the subservient nature of her role as an executor while also coming to terms with the loss of the man she loved (who happens to be Vale’s son) and Talon Rayne is a man facing death left with no choice but to do the bidding of his masters in order to protect the future of his daughter.

The relationship between Vale and his creation ADIM is a very interesting one and plays an important part in the plot development. Although relying on the classic Pinocchio conundrum of the creation’s curiosity about being human and the intricacies of emotion and relationships, on the other hand ADIM is a brutal killing machine in the hands of Vale, as we see in the opening scene where he performs a chillingly clinical attack. It is clear, however that ADIM is evolving and I’m certain there is a much bigger story unfolding here.

As a debut, The Circuit: Executor Rising is highly accomplished and injects enough vibrant energy into a tired genre to entertain the reader from start to finish. It’s a thrilling, cinematic, action-packed adventure buzzing with tension and while violent in parts it expertly balances that brutality with sentiment in just the right places, while leaving space for a social commentary that sadly resonates with global events of late.

Buy now on Amazon