The Rise Of Fantasy in the Modern Age Written By Daniel

Why Fantasy? What has made us as readers and watchers gravitate towards this vast field of literature and screen. From the streets of Chicago filled with gangsters, werewolves, vampires, fallen angels, and a wizard that is to stupid for his own good in the Harry Dresden Series, to the Harry Potter phenomenon, we as an audience are reading and watching this material in our millions.

Yes you could argue that fantasy has always been there in some form or another. In the shape of Lord of the Rings, Dune,  Alice in Wonderland and even further back Greek mythology, and stories told around camp fires to scare children giving rise to folklore, myths, and legends, but what has caused this surge in people wanting to explore the world of fantasy.

Don’t believe me?Just check the New York Times or Sunday Times bestseller lists, and I will guarantee you there will be at least two fantasy books in the top ten. Whether it be Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, Cassandra Clare, and Jim Butcher just to name a few, the range of choice never seems to stop flowing, with new voices and ideas coming to the forefront all the time, challenging what we think we know about the world of so called fantasy. I mean you cant even stroll down a couple of channels on which ever platform your using, without seeing some kind of fantasy based drama.

Just to put in perspective the sheer scale of the popularity, Westworld a HBO series which premiered in October 2016, has recently being ranked as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever. Grossing an audience on average of twelve million across all of it’s platforms, with a second season already commissioned. This is just one program in a mountain of shows, movies, and books that are planned for release this year. From Game of Thrones, to Stephen Aryan’s new trilogy set in the same world as the Age of Darkness, to the new Logan movie you couldn’t ask for a better time to be a fantasy geek.

But what is causing this shift? Is  it that we wish to be taken back to our childhoods where we become  knights and fight in a deadly duel against the fire-breathing dragon. Because lets be honest, that is how most people that don’t read and watch fantasy view it. It is usually the first thing that comes out of their mouth, when you breach the topic. ” Or I am not reading or watching that, all it will be is a load of dragons burning the place down”. Yes and to be fair in some cases they may have a point, because to be frank there are way to many dragons, but you got to love them. However I am please to say the arena of fantasy is constantly changing. We have vampires falling in love with mortals, Greek demigods roaming the streets of New York City, and the devil running a night club in downtown Los Angeles. I mean what more could you possibly want.

It is no longer good enough just to have good vs evil in fantasy. Readers and watchers want something more. As a reader and watcher of both urban and epic fantasy. I know that I stay more engaged with characters and plot lines, that show a range of different emotions, and not characters that are purely one dimensional. Lets be honest which human or creature in the worlds or environments, that we have been exposed to in both literature and on screen in recent years, would of only shown one personality trait it is simply impossible.

Think of your favourite characters from both literature and on screen, would you really of loved them as much as you do if all they did was saved the girl or kill the heroes family. Of course you wouldn’t you love them because you contact with them on both an emotional and human level.  Take for example Severus Snape in Harry Potter. J.K Rowling had fans in furious debates on forums, blogs,workplaces, and classrooms over whether Snape was bad or good and in the end in my opinion he is neither. For me he is in a word human we all have flaws and demons that we must face, and it the choices that we make that define us.

Some of the most hatred villains in history have shown that they have internal struggles. Torn between wanting to do good, but to entangled within the evil to change. A perfect example being Darth Vader, as shown throughout Star Wars as he fights against his former self but evil is slowly consuming him. This is what draws me back to fantasy and SCI-FI more than any other genre. The complexity of the characters, because in one moment you go from hating someone to feeling sorry for them. This is what has bought on the rise changing our perceptions giving vampires humanity, making the devil care, but also making what we usually perceive as good, a darker side from angels to gods we are seeing them shown in a different light, keeping us as viewers and readers guessing who to trust.

Now don’t get me wrong I love a good crime thriller, romance, and murder mystery as much as the next person. But the reason why I think fantasy, has seen such a resurgence in recent years is because it allows us to escape from the mundane routines of our normal lives. It allows us to become a powerful wizard, fall in love with a mysterious stranger that glows in the sunlight, and feast like kings in castles with the undead.  It helps us look at places where we live in a different way, making us wonder is a vampire around the next corner, or is our next door neighbor a werewolf, but also lets us dream of far away galaxies and worlds that mirror our own. Its is a genre that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing.

That for me is why we have seen a rise of fantasy in the modern age. What do you guys think?

 

 

 

 

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Review of Magpie Murders By Anthony Horowitz Written by Daniel

From the author who brought us the best selling Alex Rider Series, two Sherlock Holmes books ( House of Silk and Moriarty) including numerous other works. as well as being the creator and writer on ITV’s Foyle’s War. Comes a new who dunnit mystery which has all the hallmarks of Holmes brilliance and Poirot cunning.

The book opens with editor Susan Ryeland about to sit down to read the latest manuscript in the Atticus Pund series, a detective series written by  the fictional writer Alan Conway. Susan has worked with Alan for many years and has a love hate relationship the love being that she adores his novels, but cant stand the man. However as the story continues she begins to notice frightening similarities between the fictional world in which Conway has created, and what is taking place within the real world. This takes her on a path that will change her life forever.

What makes this story unique however is that it is two murders within one. Told from two separate narratives. One being Atticus Pund the brilliant detective, sent to investigate a suspected suicide of a villager everyone disliked for as  we later discover her observations of each inhabitant in the sleepy little village of Saxonby upon Avon are true. The other being Susan Ryeland the editor charged with helping us understand what is occurring. This can get some getting used to, as you try to keep up with the frantic pace in which both stories are delivered. But once you do this allows for a tale that will have you staying well up into the early hours of the morning, as you become your very own Atticus Pund taking to solve the case.

This story is everything you need in a murder mystery. Red herrings, multiple suspects with so many dark secrets that seem to tangle you up into a web, and a detective that has you glued from the moment he is introduced.  Now yes a lot of Agatha Christie’s work is used to inform Conway’s work, but this only helps add to the character in which Anthony has created.  Conway is so well written that you feel like he is someone you could meet in a bar.

This story takes us as readers back to the golden age of crime writing. Murders, villages with dark secrets, and a magnificent detective who they all try and escape. It a delicious mix of Midsummer murders meets Poirot and for me it is a must read.

Tell what did you like about Magpie Murders or didn’t like? what would you like to see next from Anthony Horowitz? Also let me know what you thought of this review in the comments below thank you.

 

 

 

Review Of Curse Words By Charles Soule and Ryan Browne Written by Daniel

Now when you see on the back of a comic the lines once upon a time, There was a wizard then it all went to hell. You cant help but grab it with both hands excitement surges through your veins, you turn and see the counter insight before you know it your running faster than Usain Bolt.

The shop owner stares at you with  bewildered eyes as you charge forward nearly knocking over every customer.  You take a moment to compose yourself,  reach inside your jeans pocket and remove your wallet and kindly ask if you can purchase this object you desire. Waiting patiently as every second feels like an hour as it scanned through the till. You don’t even ask for a bag you just scoop it up and exit the shop as fast as your legs can carry you turning the first page as you go.

This is what curse words is the new ongoing series from Charles Soule ( Daredevil, Death of Wolverine) and Ryan Browne ( God hates Astronauts) a rip roaring ride that has you laughing out loud from the moment you turn the first page. A wizard has appeared in New York, and he is casting spells getting rich and famous everyone thinks it wonderful. What they don’t know is that this wizard isn’t all as he seems, he is  actually a bad wizard and bad things are on their way.

As a reader we are told this from very early on just read the back of the comic. However it is done in such a way that you cant help liking wizord anyway. I mean he is like the anti Merlin bearded motorcycle riding magic junkie that you want at any party because you know for a fact something cool will always happen. But who is Wizord well as the comic develops we see him go from a wizard for hire with three rules no wars, no cures, and no love to wanting to the destroy the world which takes a number of days, in which time we see him exploring the city attracting far to much attention through his use of magic. As this first issue draws to a close it leaves us wants more giving us a glimpse into Wizord’s past, showing us where he came from and who he used to serve.

Another aspect I liked was the way in which Charles and Ryan worked together. As Ryan’s artwork adds a delightful blend to the adventure from the epic fight scene between Cornwall and Wizord, to drawings of the adorable Koala that is Margaret who can talk but we have no idea what her relationship to Wizord is at this stage. I mean she even has her own hashtag TeamMargaret what more could you want.

This comic is a delicious mix of Harry Dresden meets Watchmen meets Guardians of the galaxy, and it promises to be one great valley of destruction. It is a gonzo of darkness and light but above all just some epic magic and storytelling from two people that are on top of their respected games.

All I can say is Wizord has arrived Harry Potter you better be ready.

Tell me if you read this comic and if you have  what are you looking forward to next? What are your favourite aspects, and what is your favourite line within this first issue mine has to be you killed my horse Cornwall I liked that horse. Let me know in the comments and also tell me what you thought of this review.

and if you haven’t read it try it. It available on Amazon using this link  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Words-1-Charles-Soule-ebook/dp/B01M3VV2XP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486330295&sr=8-1&keywords=curse+words+1 and all local comic book stores and just for some added fun why don’t you follow Charles and Ryan on twitter @CHARLESSOULE and @RYANBROWNEART

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Lucifer Amazon Prime Original Show Written by Daniel

Based upon the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg. This series follows the original bad boy, god rebellious son, and the most famous fallen angel of all the devil himself Lucifer.

The opening credits to the show give us an idea of whats to come. From the beginning the angel Lucifer was cast out from heaven to rule hell for all eternity, until he decided to take a vacation.  This catapults us the viewer in modern day Los Angeles the city of angels, where Lucifer has become the owner of the mostly luxurious nightclub in Los Angeles called Lux.

Where every night he samples women,booze, and sex as mortals cant resist his charms revealing their deepest desires as soon as he peers into their eyes. Supported by his demonic protector Maze (Lesley Ann Brandt) he parties all day and night sampling all of LA’S dark side.

However when he sees a friend gunned down he vows to find her killer, and makes him begin to question whether he has some humanity after all. This puts him into the path of LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German). A hard nosed cop who does everything by the book, but what is most intriguing about her is that she is totally immune to Lucifer charms both in turn frustrating Lucifer and fascinating him all at the same time.

This leads Lucifer played by Tom Ellis to began to question his place in the world, giving us as viewers a different view upon what we believe the devil to be. A character that helps increase this is therapist Doctor Linda ( Rachel Harris) who enters into a deal with Lucifer for sex in exchange for helping him through his issues with his father, and how he is viewed by mankind leading to great viewpoints and perspectives on what him the devil is feeling.

The central relationship within the story is between Chloe and Lucifer as with each episode gets more and more complex, giving the writers a number of threads they can explore from Lucifer relationship with Chloe ex husband Dan (Kevin Alejandro), who is also a LAPD detective and holds a dark secret about Chloe past, to how they can coexist as Chloe struggles with Lucifer disillusions that he is the devil.

My only criticism of this is that some scenes seemed to be strained like they are giving to much away instead of letting the chemistry develop naturally, which can sometimes make you lose interest in the relationship and wait for the next scene involving action or angels or just something a bit more cool.

However this has allowed the writers to shift the focus onto other characters, as the show continues allowing for more detailed character development, and given more importance to the many subplots and agendas within the show.  One of the most intriguing characters within these subplots is Maze for as her character becomes more concerned for Lucifer, her priorities begin to change adding an extra lay to her character and also revealing a vulnerable side that you don’t usually associate with demons in these kind of shows.

This allows for greater story development moving away from the central relationship of Lucifer and Chloe, bringing in Lucifer’s brother Amenadiel (DB Woodside),  the first angel ever created who in the beginning of the series is a constant thorn in Lucifer’s side, trying to get him to return to hell. However as the series develops we begin to see multiple sides to his personality and his own personal battles that he must overcame, making him a character to watch, as he becomes a more pivotal character to Lucifer’s overall welfare.

Yes some may think this is just NCIS Los Angeles with Supernatural elements added to the mix, but you be wrong the characters are well defined, and the story has a fast pace keeping you on the edge of your seat from minute one and personally I cant wait to see what they have in store for us next.

Like this review if so please leave a comment, and let me know who your favourite character, what your favourite episode, and what are you hoping for out of the new series thank you.

 

 

 

Review of Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu Written by Daniel

The Synoposis

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

My Review

Okay so here comes another epic fantasy. I know what your already thinking not another Game of Thrones rip off of dragons, swords, and wizards.  Well let me tell you if you think that, Twelve kings will challenge everything we hold dear within fantasy to a whole new level. From vivid fights scenes to the world in which it is set, the minute  you turn its first page you are transported to a world of multiple possibilities. From ruthless rebellions, to simply describing spices within the desert market you become fully engrossed in the magnitude of what Beaulieu has created.

Written from a number of different viewpoints which there are many, really enhances this book  giving the reader a chance to decide for themselves who they should trust and who they should be afraid of.

I know within Game of Thrones we have multiple viewpoints and surroundings, but this book takes them a step further diving deep into the dark spaces of each character’s mind. Whether that be Ceda’s thirst for revenge, or the complications of each king you always feel that you can’t predict what is coming next.

Our main protagonist  is a young girl called Ceda, who is bent on a path to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of the kings. Twelve powerful and sinister beings who rule  Sharakhai which Ceda calls home. We are given more information on each king their powers, what they can control, and how they came to gain their status as each chapter unfolds. This is what Ceda mother Ahya discovered secrets the kings want to keep buried.

The kings have ruled Sharakhai for centuries after making a deal with desert gods giving them full control over Sharakhai.  Enabling them over time to create a number of dynasties the most deadly of which being the blade maidens,  a group of fierce female warriors each one a daughter of the kings.

An extra lay to the plot which you rarely see within fantasy is a variety of flashbacks from Ceda’s past, giving the reader a vivid picture into how Ceda that is presented to us today was formed. They never seem out-of-place or interrupt the story helping broaden our understanding behind why Ceda is this strong-willed woman. Why she probably my favourite character in all of fantasy, is because she is that girl who goes into a bar walks straight up to the biggest and baddest guy in there smacks him straight in his face, smiles, and walks away. Beaulieu has been able to create such a strong female protagonist that male characters seem to pale in comparison. Now some might say this is a weakness within the plot, but for me it was just superb. I am so sick of reading fantasies where female characters are abused, disrespected, or have to be protected by a male. This was a refreshing change from the norm and quite simply I loved it Ceda is badass.

There are many threads to the story which help built it into a detailed and fast-moving plot, from the resistance of the moonless host a rogue group of outlaws who seek to challenge the kings, which as chapters develop begins to cause problems between Ceda and her best friend Emre who she has lived with since she was a young girl, for as the secrets between them grow their whole friendship is put at risk and could destroy them forever.

A further subplot which I loved was a set of poems left to Ceda by her mother giving clues to what secrets the kings had buried. These poems are beautifully written each one making you want to discover their meaning.

So in conclusion why should you read Twelve kings. Well if you want complex characters with well fleshed out histories, relationships that will make you question everything you thought you knew, and keep you reading till the early hours of the morning. However on the other hand a story with a dark streak running throughout. Then all I can say to you is buckle up because you are about to be taken on one hell of a ride.

Return to the desert on 7th February 2017 in book 2 With Blood Upon the Sand. To continue this epic tale and find out what happens to Ceda and the gang next.

Tell me what you like about Twelve kings? it could be anything from the world, Ceda fighting skills, or the kings themselves let me know in the comments thank you.

Review of Waves by Jared A Carnie Written by Daniel

Waves is the debut novel from British author Jared A Carnie. It is a book I have read a couple of times. The story is centred around a young man called Alex. He is in that stage of life that we have all experienced where we feel everyone around us is having a better time than we are, and we begin to question why ours is not the same.

The opening chapter brings us into his life, a job he hates, still living with his parents, and a relationship on the rocks with his girlfriend called Kim. When his life is turned upside down he calls his long suffering friend James, who I have to say is my favourite character in the whole book. Yes  I can hear you ask why is this, well to be honest he just reminds me of that mate we all have who you know if you ever need them they will be there for you no matter what. So when Alex calls him asking if he can visit him at university in Bristol. He instead invites him on a road trip to his parents house in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.

This takes the reader on a journey of self discovery for both Alex and yourself asking you to look at your own life. Asking you are you just settling because you are comfortable or whether you should take a leap of faith and change your life to the way you want it. As the book continues you find Alex put in situations where he really begins to question his current status within life. Whether this is James giving him some home truths, or from having conversations with Isobel a girl he meets along his journey.

Another aspect of the book that for me is a character in it own right, is the incredible scenery and surroundings that are described in breathtaking detail from the castle grounds in Stornoway, to the sea itself which as the story develops seems to gain a voice speaking to Alex drawing him in. Giving him both a sense of calm, but at the same time making both Alex and you as the reader realise how small we really are in the grand scheme of the world.

For me this book was a story of hope, about how no matter what is happening in our lives. There is always a way out, and like the book says there’s no set route after all. No straight road. No one path. For me this book is for anyone who has wanted to escape, wanted to forget their problems, and wanted to start again.

Now if your looking for blood, guts and dramatic twists, then this book is not for you, but if your looking for a book that you can curl up with on a Sunday morning with a bacon sandwich in one hand, and a black coffee in the other, as howling winds batter your windows and pull you into a world where you can hear the waves pounding in your ears, and taste the salt in the air, but also get you to think as the pages fall away then you couldn’t go further then waves a delightful 220 paged adventure.

If you read this novel which aspects did you enjoy? Let me know and please give feedback on whether you enjoyed this review or what you like to see improved thank you.

 

 

 

Review of American Gods By Neil Gaiman Written by Daniel

This multi award winning masterpiece will have you begging for more and throwing the book at the wall all at the same time. It comes from the creator of Sandman, The graveyard book, and Stardust Neil Gaiman. In the first few pages we are introduced to Shadow Moon, a convict who released from prison three days early after discovering his wife has been killed in an horrific car accident.

Everything appears normal until a chance encounter with the mysterious Mr Wednesday  on the plane ride home, who appears to know everything about Shadows life and wants to offer him a job. This is where it gets interesting taking Shadow on a road trip across America exploring it’s very soul. As the story develops you are drawn into a world where nothing is as it seems, Shadow finds himself mixing with old gods and new with Wednesday turning out to be Odin. This is where we find out Shadow has been hired to help protect Wednesday, as a war slowly begins to appear on the horizon  between the old gods and the new which are high on power and their own importance.

The new gods include media, techno boy, and the god of cars which is believed to be the new objects of worship for most Americans referring to computers, Cars, and TV.  Shadow finding himself torn between these realities begins to have versions and encounters with his dead wife Laura discussing how she died and how he will want her there at the end.

The characters are beautifully constructed, each one given their own voice adding to the many subplots which keep you guessing all the way through. As you try to discover who is a friend and who is a foe, one of the the most memorable being Mr Nancy who in fact turns out to be Anansi the African trickster god. This book is a combination of the old myths and legends which we all love, and a new set of stories, set against this backdrop of American ideals which makes for a hell of a ride. if you like gods, war, and sometimes simply just plain weird than this is a book for you.

Who is your favourite character In American gods and why? let me know in the comments