Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drasmyr, Mathew D Ryan

Drasmyr  is a fantasy horror novel written by indie author Mathew D Ryan.

The story takes place in the city of Drisdak, and centers on the mages’ guild there.  Lucien Val Drasmyr is a 1000 year old vampire and is the main antagonist in this tale. He has made an unwise acquaintance with Arcalian, an evil mage and guild master who wants a magic scepter that Lucien guards.  He sends 2 apprentices to get it – one dies and one (Clarissa) is turned into Lucien’s bride.  Lucien kills Arcalian in the mage’s own domain and takes the body with him while the study burns behind him.

Regecon, a Mage of noble decent, formerly a councilman and newly made Guild Master has to find out what really happened in Arcalian’s study. He is assisted by Toreg, an arrogant mage, Morcallenon, the head diviner and Ambrisia, a sorceress of earthcraft who is also Regecon’s closest confidant.

Coragan is a bounty hunter hired to find Arcalian if he lives. He is not happy in his profession, feeling more like an assassin for the nobility than a bringer of justice. He feels like he is always cleaning up after his two mates. Coragan has had only bad experiences while working for both mages and noblemen, and does not see that improving.

Galladrin is a rogue. He was once a thief, is a weapons-master and is a reluctant follower, preferring to lead.  This story is ostensibly about Coragan but seems to be told from Galladrin’s perspective more often than anyone else’s, although the POV changes frequently during the course of the narrative.

Borak is barbarian warrior, strong, silent, and the only one of the three with any brains, but does not speak often.

While the three men are sifting through the ashes of the fire that had consumed Arcalian’s study they come across a special jar that remains untouched by the fire.

Korina, a student and apprentice of Ambrisia, knows what the mysterious jar is. Korina is possessed of many secrets, all of them evil. She hides her evil under a mask of innocence well, and joins in the fight against Lucien for reasons of her own.

Galladrin is somewhat of a loose cannon and his inadvertent encounter with Clarissa bring them to Lucien’s attention.

The mystery deepens and then the adventures really begin.  This is a rather grisly book, and I really don’t recommend it if you have a distaste for graphic violence.  People die regularly and gruesomely. Despite the violence, the plot moves along well and kept my attention.

The story frequently alternates point of view between Lucien whose story is told in the first person, and each of the other characters parts of the story, all of whose stories are told in the third person. The point of view jumps all over the place, but still the story is intriguing and immersive.

The system of sorcery is logical and makes sense; the characters are well drawn and engaging.  It is very easy to visualize the environment of Drisdak. I was quite engrossed in the world that Ryan builds.

Drasmyr is only available through Smashwords, and the only way I was able to read it was on my Kindle for PC app as it would not upload to my Kindle. Nevertheless, I recommend this as a great rainy-day read.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Darkness Rising, Ross M Kitson

This week I am reviewing Darkness Rising, which is written by British fantasy author Ross M Kitson.  This is a tale that has all the elements of a true classic.  The plot moves along in unexpected ways, and the characters are compelling and draw you in.  You find yourself turning the pages and reading, even when you should be putting it down and *cough* working.

And now for our story! 
Born with strange silver-grey eyes, Emelia is trapped in servitude to uncaring and haughty masters. Technically she is a ‘hired servant’ and not a slave, but the family who ‘employs’ her and others like her own her, body and soul.   It is a life that is harsh and unforgiving to a girl hears voices that counsel rebellion and who frequently crosses the line and forgets her place through no fault of her own.  Even so, she has friends and loved ones within the servant community, and even a wistful romantic interest. Because of her eyes, she is called ‘Star-Eyed’, and it is suspected that one of her ancestors was actually a ‘Subaquan’ or a merman. Events happen to Emelia and she finds herself caught up in them, unable to control them or to avoid the punishments that surely follow.

The family that employs her, the Ebon-Farrs are members of an elite and highly-placed nobility with many important connections. They are also possessed of an item, a Crystal that the Arch-mage, Inkas-Tarr desires and plans to steal. Inkas also desires to possess Emelia, and he makes a bargain with the Ebon-Farrs to purchase her. Arch-mage Inkas is the highest ranking Elemental master and he sees something in her that he wishes to have at his enclave to study.

Before that can happen, she inadvertently runs afoul of Uthor Ebon-Farr, the arrogant son of the house, and strange powers emerge within her, but she is unaware of what has happened, only that strange things are happening to her, and that she is punished severely for the events that she had no control over.

On the night that she makes her escape from her masters, Emelia meets two men, Hunor and Jem, who are attempting to steal the very crystal that Arch-mage Inkas has also sent a thief after. Things begin to really go awry, but it turns out that Emelia is a Wild Mage, and is the antitheses of the Elemental Mages.

It turns out that the crystal is actually a dangerous and powerful magical artifact, one of the Prisms of Power - ancient artifacts made by a long dead race containing terrifying magic.

Once she is embroiled with Hunor and Jem, she embarks upon an epic adventure to find the Prisms. The Prisms are necessary to defeat the lord of the ghasts, the undead mages who are unequivocally evil.  No wishy-washy maybe-they-are evil here!!!  The Lord of the Ghasts is Evil. Emelia holds the key to their location but the Wild-magic comes at a dire cost...that of her mind.

Kitson has created a world that is fully fleshed in both its history and its social structure, and built a system of magic that is logical and is fully believable.  The details are slipped into the story in such a way that the reader does not get bored.  I was able to fully picture the world that Kitson describes, and found myself immersed in the lives of Emelia, Hunor and Jem. I didn't want the book to end!
I am SO looking forward to the next step in their adventures!  Ross M Kitson, please write faster!