Epheros - Book Reviews

Here is the list of books I've reviewed, and for a look at my Amazon profile click here.

For Forgotten Realms novel reviews please check here.

I set up a page strictly for Gail Z. Martin's books here.

The Tower of Ruin, by William Kooiker

The Blood Red Harp, by Elaine Cunningham

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman

Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman

The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown

The Revenge of the Shadow King, by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

The Rise of the Black Wolf, by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

The Fall of the Templar, by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice
Worlds to Conquer, by Jonathan Moeller

Tower of Ruin by William Kooiker

William Kooiker's Tower of Ruin tells the story of a small group of mercenaries sent to investigate the frontier town of Oester. Many refugees have appeared in neighboring towns unable to speak of the horrors that caused them to flee, but when one family arrives in Calas, the King's capital city, the mercenaries decide to take action. By petitioning the king for permission to discover what happened the mercenaries set out to uncover an evil festering in Oester.

The story follows six heroes as they seek answers to the questions the refugees refuse to answer. Cadwan, the acknowledged leader and most capable warrior of the troupe, guides his companions Kyligan, the reticent ranger, Dorin, a warrior-priest, Alazar, the group's mysterious mage, and Cora, a jovial rogue halfling. As part of the deal to investigate Prince Calien, the heir to the throne of Calas, joins the mercenaries in order to seek adventure and learn more of the lands he is hold kingship over.

Overall, the story is well written and fluid. The storyline and plot are solid and enjoyable, the setting is rather vivid bringing to life the World of Whitethorn without inundating the reader with the minutiae of this new world. Descriptions of the scenes and the overall pace was well maintained, keeping the reader involved and interested in this story. The characters were believable and underwent considerable growth throughout the story. Prince Calien was notable in the details of his experience coming from the sheltered life of a prince to the capable member of the adventuring party.

The dialogue was the hard to get used to though. Written in a high, proper fantasy speak - none of the characters would be caught dead saying `don't' or `I'd' instead of `do not' or `I would' - it took a little effort to actually accept this and continue with the story. The prince and maybe the wizard could've gotten away with such a voice but in all the characters the dialogue was a little strained. There were a couple moments in the book where the characters revealed thoughts in dialogue that was difficult to believe they would actually reveal such private moments.

This book was a good read once the dialogue issue was accepted, and it certainly kept the interest throughout the entire book. Scenes where not much going on still maintained a level of involvement that kept the reader turning the page for more. The backstory engaged the reader as well, uncovering the truth of the situation throughout the entire book as the mercenaries uncovered bits of lore that the reader was somewhat privy to at the beginning.

I recommend this book as an easy read for a weekend escape. A very solid first novel by this attentive author.

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The Blood Red Harp by Elaine Cunningham

Elaine Cunningham’s novel, The Blood Red Harp, is one of four Everquest novels set in the online roleplaying game’s world. The novel itself doesn’t require knowledge of the game in order to enjoy it. While I’m a fan of certain roleplaying computer games I’ve never played Everquest, but Elaine’s mastery of bringing a setting to life is remarkable, and no less so for this world.

The Blood Red Harp details the adventure of a flighty bard, Elizerain, cursed to find truths to the songs she sings. After being given a magical harp by a necromancer, Rain must discover the truth of the instrument unknowingly in a plot for him to utilize its powers for himself. The bard travels with three companions sworn to help her learn more about the harp, one being a noble elf enchanter named Nyson and Xander, a wood elf ranger.

The adventure sends them across the land and into slave pits, even as prisoners of a warband of ogres, but throughout their ordeals each of them learn more about each other and themselves than they would ever have thought.

Elaine’s description of the world is unsurpassed. She brings to life the various geography and personalities of the Everquest world with ease, bringing the reader into the story so fully that the pages just seem to fly by. It is of sad note to know that these characters probably will not grace us with their presence ever again unless the owners of Everquest deem to try their hand at broadening their product in another attempt.

Rain, Nyson, and Xander, as well as the necromancer and even Davin the Dark, the bandit leader, were wonderfully three dimensional and have such distinctive character and personality. The story is primarily character driven with the game lore as a subtle backdrop. The plot itself is easy to follow which makes Elaine’s rendering of the characters so much more powerful.

This story was well built around a musical theme, carrying the reader on an intriguing adventure with that purpose. As a reader, this style was very involved and utilized descriptions that captured the other senses – especially aural – more so it seems than any other book.

Though there were confusing moments, moments that were difficult to follow who was talking and some spots seemed like there was a time jump in the writing just to get to the next part. One spot, toward the end, indicated one character was heavily involved with an activity but suddenly that character was next to another having a discussion, there may have been a moment of time between but it happened too quick to adjust. A few moments of similar circumstance popped up but overall this didn’t affect the pace and enjoyment of the novel.

I enjoyed this story and was very glad I decided to add this to my collection. It’s just a shame, though, that I’ll not here from these characters again as I have become particularly attached.

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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

By all the stars and shadows I cannot give true justice to describe Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel, The Name of the Wind. Even as an aspiring writer myself I cannot find the words to relay the magnificence of Mr. Rothfuss' storytelling. This first novel surprisingly captured my attention and just simply walked by my side, pointing out all the glory and beauty contained inside this work art.

The Name of the Wind is the first book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a trilogy of high fantasy; but, don't let `high fantasy' prejudice you, this is a novel unlike anything else. It begins with an innkeeper and his apprentice tending to five regulars (of a town of maybe twelve people?), listening to the oldest of the group tell a story like any old storyteller of the day. Happening alongside this part of the tale is a Chronicler - a collector of stories and researcher - who is mugged somewhere along a trade road. As he walks his way toward civilization he stumbles across the innkeeper. It was then the Chronicler recognizes the innkeeper as Kvothe, a legendary hero, minstrel, vagabond, and powerful magician.

After pleading and pestering the innkeeper to tell his story, Kvothe relents and allows the collector to pen his story, as he tells it. This is the start of Patrick Rothfuss' marvelous technique of storytelling. The rest of the novel of told in the style and voice of Kvothe, telling the Chronicler and his apprentice, and of course, the readers the beginning of this near mythical hero. The tale is told in an Arabian Nights appeal, with Kvothe acting the part of Sheherezade, and follows utterly and completely throughout the story in the distinctive personality of the protagonist.

There are many novels out there with good plots, excellent storylines, and great characters, and this book has all of that and more, but the uniqueness of this tale is in its telling. I not only identified with the characters - and even minor ones have dimensional reality - but I felt transported to this world, partaking in the adventures and growth of this character. I laughed, became distressed, felt anxious, and even got a little teary eyed in so many different places.

This book is such a delight to read. It's so easy to follow because Kvothe knows how to tell a story while keeping it interesting, thus Patrick Rothfuss truly is a master craftsman to pull this off, especially considering this is his first book. I don't want to imagine how Mr. Rothfuss is going to outdo himself on any other books after this trilogy, but for now, he has become a mentor to me as I strive to learn the craft.

This book is kept within easy reach so I can refer to it for pointers but, more importantly, I have it available for multiple reads. For anyone who enjoys a great piece of storytelling or simply loves to indulge in believable fantasy this IS the book. It would be considered wrong, nearly criminal in my opinion, to pass by this wonderful piece of fine art. I already miss reading it and am not sure how I'll be able to withstand the time for the release of book two. So, for now, I encourage all of you to go out, buy this book, support this author, and, most importantly, experience this amazing tale.

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things is a collection of Neil Gaimen’s short stories, and some poetry also, along with a section of his own commentary regarding each of the stories within. The entire volume is interesting in that there are many different examples of his style of writing. Short stories that I myself would never have thought ready to publish tend to hold up a mirror to my own creative bias. I learned a lot about the crafting of each story and now marvel at the variety of approaches he takes. Each story is very good, but of course, when dealing with various forms of style some stories will strike a stronger note with each reader.

In Fragile Things, my favorite part about the whole anthology is Gaimen’s commentary. I find this as the most entertaining piece because it is his voice providing a little insight to the how’s and why’s of each story. Talking about how he lost this story in an attic somewhere or the background of how a particular piece was commissioned. These comments provide just some of the most inspiring little tidbits of knowledge and really allow one to just see why Gaimen is so prolific.

Without reviewing each story, as that would be a huge undertaking beyond the scope of this review, I will highlight a few stories I found particularly relevant to me. So, to begin:

A Study in Emerald: I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes and this crossover to Lovecraftian mythos was just amazing. It is no wonder why Gaimen was “mysteriously inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars” after publishing this adventure. It captures the Victorian feel of a Holmes story and adds that bit of Lovecraft just enough to make it otherworldly. I was not disappointed.

October in the Chair: This was an intriguing story in which all the months of the year gather around a fire and tell stories. The scene is reminiscent of a couple of older men bickering in their little way, nitpicking from each of their set-in-stone personality. The story October tells is a nice little ghost story about a little boy who is out of place in his family, his school, his town and decides to run away. Though the story ends a little undone it is completed in a way that justifies the sudden ending.

Other People: A beautiful take on Hell. This story just captures the imagination and it being only three pages long really makes its impact. A man finds himself in Hell and is submitted to what seems to be an eternal torture, until he discovers its purpose. Great, great story!

Good Boys Deserve Favors: A young boy is forced in school to pick a musical instrument and due to his small size decides to make a joke of picking the double bass. The ending just takes my breath away. I love the power that music seems to create when one’s heart and soul magically summons the most enchanting song. This story doesn’t disappoint. Reminds me of a scene or two from Patrick Rothfuss’ ‘The Name of the Wind’, astounding!

Harlequin Valentine: I never get enough of good jester stories and this one helps feed that need. Harlequin, from the classic opera, is seeking his Columbine in the modern world. When he finds her the situation turns around on him. Lovely!

The Problem with Susan: This is the Gaimen ending to the Chronicles of Narnia, telling the story of Susan, the somewhat left behind girl from the Narnia stories. It turns out she faded into the modern world, until a reporter strives to uncover her story.

Feeders and Eaters: Gaimen’s rendition of a vampire tale, down to earth and a little haunting. Takes a different route on telling the story, and very good at that.

Goliath: a bit of fan fiction, sort of, from the movie The Matrix. It was originally hosted on the movie’s website, and I remember reading it back then, and has been added to this compendium. A story of a very large man who ends up accidently perceiving the illusion of the Matrix. Things change during his life and he recalls the inconsistencies, ultimately having his life relived, becoming a British special projects experimental pilot. He finds out that he is chosen as the last ditch effort to save the real earth. A haunting story in which he lives out the remaining moments of his life back in the Matrix.

A lot of stories, and out of thirty short stories and poems these made the most impact. Others also would have made the cut, including Closing Time, Keepsakes and Treasures, and How to Talk to Girls at Parties, but I didn’t want to get too out of hand on this review. The poetry is good also but I’ve never been good at reading and understanding poetry so I will avoid making asinine comments I have no business making.

This is a very good collection of fantasy, horror, and mystery, and allows one to get a grand introduction to the styles and creations of Neil Gaimen. Definitely a book worth picking up.

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Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of his short stories and poems. Like his other short story/poem collection titled Fragile Things, this book too has an introduction with commentary of each of the stories and poems contained within. For me, this introduction is the best part of the book because of his witty insight and inspirational motivations regarding each story. Within the introduction also lies another short story unmarked in the table of contents, a pleasant addition to the entire book.

Gaiman’s approach to style is refreshing and full of lessons to one looking to learn the craft of writing. Many of the stories, to me, seemed unorthodox, a deviation to a path I thought I was beginning to understand. His methods are intriguing and entertaining, full of marvelous rewards. To review each story and poem is beyond the scope of this review but I will highlight a few short stories that appealed to me on many different levels.

The Price: An interesting piece about a seemingly stray black cat who turns out to be a guardian of sorts. The story moves in smooth and fluid motion to a surprise ending. Enjoyable, to say the least!

Troll Bridge: This more elaborate and compelling rendition of the old tale brings a sense of mystery and magic into the shadows of common places. Gaiman creates a feeling of anxiety in this darker version of the story but closes in the most uncommon of ways.

Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar: An American backpacker across Britain stumbles into a town never identified on any map. A step into the Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos, Gaiman brings the unknown and surreal into beautiful clarity and keeps it practical.

Only the End of the World Again: Another step into Lovecraft’s famous hidden town of Innsmouth but this time from the eyes of a detective. Uncovering a plot to raise the great Cthulhu, the investigator, cursed with lycanthropy, moves to thwart their plans. He discovers that not everyone in Innsmouth can be trusted or ignored.

Bay Wolf: A second tale of the Innsmouth werewolf detective who, while vacationing, it seems, in Malibu, is hired to stop some creature from stalking the beach and murdering the Barbie and Kens of this rich resort. More poem than short story it still reads well and entertains.

We Can Get Them for You Wholesale: A tale of a non-confrontational miser trying to live peacefully and without trouble suddenly finds himself hiring a hitman to solve a problem. But, saving money and getting the better deal turns out to backfire in way I didn’t expect. A very good read.

Foreign Parts: This story brings to light an interesting idea about disease. A man somehow contracts a disease more commonly venereal but ends up having a far different reaction. Intriguing, and very interesting characterization.

Tastings: An erotic tale of a different sort of vampire. A male gigolo attends to a female client and reveals an interesting secret about himself, never realizing that he isn’t the only one with such a secret.

Babycakes: A horrible piece of flash fiction that poignantly reminds us of the depth of depravity mankind could stoop to, implausible, but always having that little spark of “What if”. Well done!

Murder Mysteries: The coup de grace of this entire book. The sole reason I would have gladly paid the entire cover price. Murder Mysteries tells of the waking of the angel Raguel whose purpose is to discover the truth of the death of another angel. Set in heaven long before the world and universe is created, or in actuality being created during this investigation, this tale drives home some very powerful ideas of God, Lucifer, and the celestial balance.

A couple other stories were remarkable, such as the poem Queen of Knives, and the story Mouse. I avoided reviewing most of the poems because of my general lack of comprehension with poem structure, meaning, and imagery. Again, Murder Mysteries alone justified my purchase of this book, the rest of the stories were entertaining and made the book that much more enjoyable.

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The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Dan Brown’s popular, best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, introduces the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon who is suspected by Parisian police to have murdered the head curator of the Louvre. The curator is shot dead inside the museum, trapped inside one of the locked down rooms, and appears to have scrawled a message in ultraviolet ink next his own body. The message points to Robert Langdon and the Paris agent, Captain Bezu Fache, is dead set on arresting Langdon.

Sophie Nevue is a Paris cryptologist with the police force who receives a copy of the coded message left by the curator, who, in actuality, is her grandfather. She sees meaning in the message and immediately shows up on the crime scene to assist, though not in the obvious manner. She helps Langdon escape from the Captain and together they travel across France and Great Britain piecing together the tiny clues that end up guiding them on an epic quest to solve the curator’s murder and ultimately uncover a two thousand year old secret; a secret that has been the cause of hundreds of years of war and bloodshed, kept hidden by a secret brotherhood.

The Da Vinci Code is a gripping story that moves from one puzzle to the next with surprising depth and reality. Amazingly enough Dan Brown creates a story that is not so entirely focused on characterization but keeps the reader’s interest throughout the entire book. There is character development but it is not central to the story. Purely plot driven, this story takes you on a trip through the crusades to renaissance to the modern era easily with little awareness of time.

This story is well told, contains solid description, and is rife with historic and fictional details enough to almost convince you of this book being a true historic account. Truly a fictional tale it is told with a practical cadence that is undeniably compelling. The religious subject matter an obvious bone of contention for Christian believers that justifies the publicity the book has earned over the last couple years.

Over all, this is a very fast and entertaining book to indulge in, providing a thought provoking idea based in part on some truth, as the most believable lies can be. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an action novel with a twist and likes to follow deeply meaningful puzzles throughout a book. Definitely not one to put down.

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Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Angels and Demons is Dan Brown’s prequel to The DaVinci Code, taking place approximately one year before the events in his best selling novel. The incidents in this book are hinted at in The DaVinci Code and only help to whet the appetite, and this book does not disappoint.

Robert Langdon, a Harvard Symbologist, receives a mysterious phone call by the director of Switzerland’s CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider used to study antimatter. Langdon is flown to Geneva to meet with the director and is shown the horrific crime scene of a physicist murdered in his own room and a symbol burned into his chest. The symbol belongs to a lost brotherhood of scientists called the Illuminati who, several hundred years ago, swore vengeance against the Catholic church for stifling of scientific progress with religious doctrine.

The dead scientist was also a devout Catholic priest working on antimatter as a future energy source. Away on research during the murder, Vittoria Vetra, the priest’s adopted daughter, returns home and enlightens the director and Langdon on her father’s work, discovering a dangerously large sample of antimatter is missing from the lab. A phone call from Rome adds to the mystery when the missing container of antimatter is seen in a security camera of the Vatican with no clue to its location. Langdon and Vetra are sent to the Vatican to assist in locating the canister but are suddenly caught up in a bomb threat made by the Illuminati.

Langdon’s expertise is put to the test as him and Vetra race through Rome trying to solve hidden clues leading to the secret Illuminati lair to find the murderer and hopefully the bomb.

From the first page this book just does not let up. I finished this hefty tome in one weekend because I couldn’t put it down, staying up all night until I could read by the light of the sun. This is an action novel, purely plot driven and fluid in its telling. As with The DaVinci Code, this book is not big on characterization. There is characterization but it isn’t the focus of the book. As an action novel its main point is telling a fantastic story that drives the reader to the end without pause.

Again, I could not put this book down and the story is well conceived. The ending is just amazing and doesn’t come off as contrived or artificial, everything makes sense and flows logically from one part of the story to the next. Dan Brown’s storytelling is spot on and Angels and Demons is a book definitely worth picking up.

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The Revenge of the Shadow King by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis team up to write a fantastic young adult trilogy called Grey Griffins, a series of young adult, modern fantasy novels. The first book, The Revenge of the Shadow King, introduces Grayson Maximillian Sumner III, or Max, as an eleven year old boy in Avalon, Minnesota who is the son of a rich and powerful businessman. Money is never a problem for the boy but he isn’t spoiled. A very humble child, troubled by his parent’s recent divorce, only wishes everyone didn’t make such a fuss about his father’s success. His only friends are Ernie, a thin, nerdy, sugar fiend who is more coward than anything; Harley, a rather big eleven year old who could easily pass for thirteen; and Natalia, Avalon’s greatest aspiring detective.

The four friends, the sole members of their secret club, The Grey Griffins, spend their evenings playing a fantasy trading card game called Round Table in the upstairs room of their favorite hobby shop. The game is run by a old gentleman named Iver who owns the shop. A father figure, of sorts, to the pre-teens, he helps mentor them on teamwork and understanding through the scenarios of the game.

Staying at his grandmother’s house one night, Max is awakened during a storm and sees a creature from the card game stalking in his room. He is barely able to escape and ends up hiding himself in his grandmother’s attic. While there, he notices an old book on a desk glowing magically. He opens the book and discovers a picture of a faerie creature, called a Spriggan, with a foreign script designed around the picture’s edge. Somehow Max is able to make sense of the script and reads the words, letting loose the creature into the world. Later, the Spriggan persuades Max to release a shadow creature trapped within the pages, which, of course, starts the chain of events that lead Max and his friends to discover that the world of faerie and their fantasy card game are more real than they could have imagined.

The Grey Griffins learn that an evil sorceress is searching for the magical book. Through Iver, who apparently is more than a hobby store owner, the four Griffins find that Avalon is populated with many friends and foes alike. Hidden in the normal humdrum of the daily affairs are mysterious Templar Knights and minions of King Arthur’s powerful sister, Morgan LeFay. The Grey Griffins find more about their destiny as the world of faerie pushes its way into reality, slowly taking the town of Avalon across the threshold of magic and faerie.

The Revenge of the Shadow King is good story. Whether young adult or regular adult, the tale is well spun and is enjoyable. Benz and Lewis have done a great job putting together an amazing story for their readers. Chock full of characterization and plot readers will find themselves keeping the book open and wanting to find out more about this story. I was well entertained throughout the entire trilogy.

There were just a few little innocent typos, it seemed, for instance, there was one point in which two characters were talking and the text indicated a character not in the scene had spoken. But the little hiccups in this story are hardly worth the consideration. The story is geared for the younger crowd thus it is put together a little more simply than a standard adult novel. For fans of Harry Potter (a series in which the writing I just can’t seem to get past) the style of writing is far more rewarding in my opinion.

Overall, a grand tale told by excellent up-and-coming authors who are only growing in skill as they continue their craft. I recommend it as a good book just to keep up with what the little ones are reading and to have an easy read on a lazy weekend.

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The Rise of the Black Wolf by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

The Rise of the Black Wolf is the second book of the Grey Griffins trilogy, a series of young adult, modern fantasy novels. The story picks up about a season or two after the last book; it's almost Christmas and during the down time Max has gained some experience in using the magic of the Codex, his mystical book of faerie. The four friends have been cleaning up some of the rogue and renegade faerie in the forests around Avalon, Minnesota from the fall out of the previous book, using the Codex to capture and trap the faerie within its pages.

While Max discovers more about his legacy regarding his lineage to King Arthur and his family’s involvement in a secret Templar society, he gets a telegram from his father for the Grey Griffins to join him for Christmas at his castle in Scotland. All four friends are excited, except Ernie of course, who tends to be nervous about everything, and prepare for their trip. It isn’t too far along when the castle comes under siege by a group of werewolves called The Black Wolves Society who end up kidnapping Max’s father.

The Grey Griffins learn that the Black Wolves are after an ancient artifact known as The Spear of Ragnarok, and apparently only the Guardian of the Codex can recover the pieces. The race begins for the Grey Griffins to find the pieces of the magical Spear and use it to rescue Max’s father. An action adventure that leads to a very heart-rending, powerful revelation at the end.

The Rise of the Black Wolf is definitely geared for the young adult crowd, though adults will find the books an enjoyable read as well. Amazingly, this book does not suffer from the common ‘middle trilogy book’ syndrome where the story only seems to be an overly long lead-in to the third book. In this book, instead, lies a great story that is worthy of standing on its own. A strong plot, excellent story telling and character development that picks up nicely where it left off, and provides the springboard for even more powerful story telling for the next book.

Benz and Lewis have done a marvelous job crafting the second book to the Grey Griffins trilogy and seem to have overcome the little errors in the first book. The story develops as well, becoming more mature in tone than the first book, seemingly to parallel the character development within. Again, the authors are spot on in style and are able to maintain a fluid tale that carries the reader into the book three. Another great book for a good relaxing weekend!

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The Fall of the Templar by Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis

In book three of the Grey Griffins trilogy, The Fall of the Templar, Derek Benz and J.S. Lewis bring the story to fantastic close. Max, Harley, and Natalia escape the Black Wolves after losing the Spear of Ragnarok to their leader. Ernie is hospitalized in a coma and the friends are distraught at their friend’s situation and their loss of the artifact. Their return to Avalon is not a happy one, especially with the looming specter of the end of the world behind them.

A new mentor enters Max’s life to help him understand the Codex and his developing power, but there is very little time left to do anything. The last hope lies in another lost artifact called the Eye of Odin, a magical item whose power can take magic from another source, hopefully the spear. The Templar are on a last ditch effort to locate and recover the object before the Black Wolves find the World Tree. Their desire to use the spear and end the world is driven by the idea of recreating a new world order.

The Grey Griffins, including Ernie whose miraculous recovery has given him powers from Faerie, travel with several remaining Templar to the faerie Underworld to search for the Eye of Odin and stop the Black Wolves. Max must confront the Eye’s guardians and Ernie learns that there is a great risk using his new power. Natalia and Harley and the rest of the Templar must surpass the Underworld’s many obstacles and creatures to locate the World Tree and help Max.

Benz and Lewis, in a remarkable twist, take the reader through an unforeseen ending that isn’t contrived or substandard. The Fall of the Templar completes an excellent story that has only gotten better and better throughout the three books. Action packed with great characterization and drama, this story is well worth reading.

The Grey Griffin trilogy, overall, is very well done, methodical and enjoyable, and most of all supremely entertaining. Aside the first book’s minor faults the whole series is told in a perfect balance of detail and forward momentum. Never lagging, it allows the reader to share the four friend’s experiences while growing and learning throughout the story. Many lessons of teamwork, trust, and responsibility are executed seamlessly within the tale, an inspiring series for the young adult reader, and even for the adult reader.

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Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

Anne Rice takes a drastic side-step to the left in her book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Fans of her vampires and Mayfair witch chronicles may be disappointed if those topics are the sole reason for their entertainment. But, for those who enjoy Anne Rice’s writing and style this book is just as remarkable as her previous books.

In Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, Rice takes us back to ancient Israel, bringing us face to face with Jesus at the age of seven years. Living in Alexandria, Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, decides that the family must flee Egypt after a particular altercation Jesus has with a local boy. It is during the journey to Nazareth and Jerusalem that Jesus witnesses his homeland in turmoil. With the murderous King Herod dead small factions are trying to pick up the pieces of Israel, and in their wake Jesus witnesses so much violence and misery.

Along the journey Jesus begins to learn about the circumstances of his birth. Puzzling out this family secret he slowly understands the importance of who he is and the destiny that awaits him. And while he tries to understand he must also discover the truth about the power he has within him.

Anne Rice’s amazing attention to detail renders the ancient holy land, in all its primitive and majestic glory, beautifully in our imagination. Her ability to bring to life the worlds she writes about is put to the test in this book as she strives to recreate a momentous event in western history. Telling the tale of Jesus, through his first person point of view, Anne Rice combines her excellent research and penchant for capturing true-to-life settings to tell a rich and rewarding story.

Again, her ability to write clearly detailed settings and very personable characters are top notch. The story itself was very interesting, capturing the simple life of laborers and peasants in just the right amount of observation. Anne Rice uses the voice of Jesus to tell the story, but the story is told as if Jesus wanted to tell it from the mind of his seven year old self. The grammar tends to stumble toward a more simpler construction in an attempt to render this child voice, even using the narration to mimic the dialect or accent of the people. It isn’t written in that poor context of an amateur writer (think junk Scottish vernacular), it is the style of the voices of Jesus and the people he talks or listens to that are reminiscent of foreign conversations such as one would find in a Turkish bazaar or Arab souk – “Come, my friend, come see my rugs, my beautiful rugs, I give you good price”.

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt does also lag in several places as the reader may get the feeling that “yes, this is just another day in the life of a seven year old boy, let’s move on” and that the forward momentum of the story feels like it’s just stop-and-go in some places. Ultimately, the story is worth reading, getting past these parts helps to make sure you are putting the book down in order to get to sleep on time at night, but just as equally are the parts that make you stay up all night just so you can get to the next chapter… well, maybe just one more chapter… ok, only one more. Out of five stars, I’d give a three point five.

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Worlds to Conquer by Jonathan Moeller

Jonathan Moeller’s book, Worlds to Conquer, is an entertaining story that crosses the modern Earth with a fantastic medieval world. The story tells of a fantasy world overcoming the sinister plots of a council of evil warlocks, and one in particular, Marugon, ends up escaping the justice of the kingdom's White Council. He retreats to a desolate and deadly land, braving the perils to reach a mystical and ancient tower. Within the tower Marugon finds an infinite series of doorways and chooses one, which happens to open into a tiny closet in a rundown Chicago apartment.

The closet belongs to Wycliff, a college student of history, who is doubly surprised at the newcomer and the magical doorway in his room. Marugon impresses upon him to instruct him in Earth's history and introduce him to the modern era. In exchange for lots of gold and modern weaponry Marugon makes a deal to teach the student black magic. With two mysterious forces colliding the balance of power is challenged: magic on Earth and modern weaponry on the medieval world.

Time passes and Wycliff, with his new wealth and magic power, becomes a powerful political figure and is eyeing the presidency. Marugon and his newly acquired weapons decimates the knights and wizards of his home world and begins the destruction of the seven kingdoms. Marugon confronts the powerful white wizard Alastarius, who before his death makes a prophecy regarding a child of the king who will rise up to destroy Marugon. The story continues with Marugon searching for the prophesied child whose escape has bridged the two worlds together. By crossing the mystical doorways, Marugon and the presently Senator Wycliff must find and destroy the child and his protectors before the prophesy comes to pass.

The story is fast paced, enjoyable, and is actually an easy read. I have it in .pdf format and, though I read it on the computer, it read as easily as if it were a physical book in my hand. The settings and characters are well done and Moeller was able to successfully capture the foreignness of the knights who traveled to Earth. The rendering of the modern weapons sudden emergence in a fantasy world was very intriguing and really raised some speculation as to what such a situation might truly be like - definitely a good book to bring such questions while reading. The main characters, that is Simon, Julie, Ally, Wycliff, Marugon, Conmager, Liam, and Arran, were very well thought out and consistent. That is quite an array of personas in such a short book (227 pages in .pdf form) and Moeller does a fine job fleshing each of them out while keeping track of them through out the book.

Some issues I had with the book, though, was the excessive amount of copy-edit errors, a definite problem with the publisher. There were many misspelled words and some missing or incorrect words which made reading the story distracting. A testament to the author's skill as a writer is his style, which kept me reading even past the copy-edit errors. Another problem was the matter of time. The chapters are broken into yearly observances based on the calendar of the world relevant to the chapter. Many spots had me guessing or assuming a certain amount of months or weeks had passed and it took a little time to adjust when events happening in the story felt out of place. Also, one character, Borenstein, seemed to fall out of place midway through the story when his only utterance was “Sign in please” then suddenly - which may have been an indication of time passing and a certain level familiarity had been established between this character and Simon - Borenstein was talkative and open. Again, it could have been the passing of time or it could have been a contrived way to pass information to the reader in a way that makes sense. It felt out of place when I read it, but ultimately did not distract from the overall enjoyment of the story.

Worlds to Conquer does end in such a way that a second book is needed to fulfill the story, to bring resolution to the whole prophesy, and I hope there is a second book as I’m interested in seeing more of Moeller’s work. Over all, this was still a good book and very enjoyable. I would give it three out of five stars on the merit of Moeller’s skill in storytelling, but it would probably be more closer to a two due to the publishing copy-edit errors and the confusing elements of time. It’s worth supporting a good up-and-coming author who does have excellent storytelling capability.