Review of Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams.

August 12, 2012
Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
Blackwyrm Publishing
Copyright 2012 by Blackwyrm Publishing
ISBN: 9781613181256
184 pages
   Michael Williams said of himself recently that he had always wanted to write a Greek tragedy but he's not Greek, was born about 2500 years to late, and doesn't even read modern Greek much less ancient.  Nevertheless, he set forth recently to do something of the sort anyhow.  The result of those efforts is the novel Vine: An Urban Legend, which weds Greek tragedy to urban legend.  It is a departure in style and content from Mr. Williams previous work, such as the novel Weasels Luck TSR 1988, and Trajan's Arch Blackwyrm 2012. 

    Vine is the story of a down and out play director who wants to get some of his own at last by shocking the community.  He decides to stage The Bacchae by Euripides for the series of free summer plays at the outside amphitheater in the park.  He awakes some ancient forces associated with the play, and they take a hand to make a real tragedy.

    Mr. Williams' style is loose and irreverent, yet the story is tight, honest, and respectful.  Characters painted as villains from one perspective are sympathetic from another, much like real people the reader might note.  There's a bit of the sympathetic fellow and a bit of the villain in all of us, you might conclude.  Vine exposes the silly conceits, the lack of insight and foresight in people average and people highly successful.  It also shows their strengths and hopes.  It's funny, tragic, beautiful, and dirty all at once.  It won't leave readers happy, this reader thinks, but neither will it necessarily leave readers unsatisfied.  It is definitely a tragedy, though and not for the faint of heart.  Expect some enlightenment, but don't look for a clearly uplifting ending.  It is definitely an urban legend and won't make everything stark and clear at the end, so don't look to have it all explained.

    There's a fairly unique format in this novel, in that it is told partly in the style of Greek tragedy with a chorus leader and chorus and speaking characters.  This adds to the dark charm.  It's very readable with an easy, flowing, seemingly discursive style,yet in fact, everything read is pertinent to the story.  Such a story, with the characters that populate it, of course has some course language and topics inappropriate for younger and/or sensitive readers.  There are few errors in proof reading and editing, and none that broke this reader totally out of the story.

   All in all, a good read, entertaining, and not unenlightening.  I do recommend it.



Review of Sygillis of Metatron by Ren Garcia

August 9, 2012
Sygillis of Metatron
Ren Garcia 
Copyrigth 2009 by Ren Garcia
Loconeal Publishing 2011
Cover art and illustrations by Carol Phillips, Eve Ventrue, and Bea Matarredona-Garcia

I saw this book at Mr. Garcia's table at Fandomfest Louisville in 2011 and wanted to get it then.  I didn't have the cash to get all the books I wanted.  I never do.  I finally bought it from him at the same event in 2012.  One of the reasons I wanted it was that later in the series one encounters the best title ev...
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Review of The Exodus Gate by Stephen Zimmer

May 7, 2012
The Exodus Gate
Stephen Zimmer
Copyright 2009 by Stephen Zimmer
First Printing 2009 by Seventh Star Press
Urban Fantasy
Cover Art by Matthew Perry

The Exodus Gate is the first in a trilogy titled The Rising Dawn Saga.  It is epic, urban fantasy.  It is an ambitious novel with a large cast of characters and multiple plot lines that slowly, elegantly are woven together as the story unfolds.  The plot is thick.  The characters are believable and sympathetic.  The language is sometimes heavy, eve...
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Review of High Kings, by H. David Blalock

May 7, 2012
High Kings
H. David Blalock
Copyright 2011 by H. David Blalock
First Printing, May 2011
Sam's Dot Publishing.
Speculative Fiction/sci fi
Cover Art by Mitchell Davidson Bentely
Cover Design by Atomic Fly Studios

High Kings is a novella, a good, short, well-written read about a the "conundrums" which "abound in time travel."
It's entertaining and sophisticated with well-rounded characters and a plot not too complex but which can confuse those who don't pay attention.   
Dr. Marlene Sartor...
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Review: Ascendant by H. David Blalock

February 28, 2011
    Title: Ascendant
    Author: H. David Blalock
    Publisher: Sam's Dot Publishing
    ISBN 9780981969602  470 pages

Ascendant is an epic fantasy novel written by H. David Blalock in his best, inimitable style.  In the fictional setting of Atlantis, a cast of memorable and sympathetic characters led by the protagonist, Andalarn Thran, vie for position, favor, power, and even the right to exist at all on the Island of Adylonis.  Full of suspense, epic sweep, political intrigue, romance, adventu...

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Review: Thomas Riley

March 25, 2010

TITLE: Thomas Riley
AUTHOR: Nick Valentino
PUBLISHER: Echelon Press, LLC, 2010
ISBN 978-1-59080-700-2 (282 pages)

Thomas Riley is a fun, fast-paced adventure in the "Steam Punk" genre.  Valentino's first novel, it is a satisfactory read with few of the rough edges that often characterize an opus one.  Thomas Riley, an engineer and alchemist who aids his country as a weapons developer, is thrust into the action and mayhem that he has so readily enabled for years.  In a desperate attempt to save ...

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