Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Review: Equilibrium Episode 2 by CS Sealey

As their empire faces crushing defeat, the Ronnesian mages are forced to make an impossible choice.

Three years since the last of the twelve legendary mages were revealed, the politics of war have shifted. Determined to try for unity, King Samian reaches out to the Ronnesians with an offer of marriage, a bloodless end to the war and a vision for a peaceful future. Yet Queen Sorcha is wary of deception.

While politics governs the leaders, others are moving in secret to deal the Ayons a fatal blow, in the hope of tipping the balance permanently in the Ronnesians’ favor.

But instead of faltering, the Ayons swiftly retaliate and the first wave comes crashing down. As the northern defences strain and begin to buckle under the force of the crimson army, the Ronnesian mages are forced to break the unwritten rule to save their empire from destruction.


Episode 2 is (of course) the second of six episodes in CS Sealey's serialized novel Equilibrium. The scope grows and the stakes rise. 

I have to say Sealey's writing is a real treat. Her prose is strong and clean while remaining both easy to understand and vivid. I feel like I don't have to work to keep up yet she keeps the pages turning and the action intense. Whether a battle or a simple argument, conflicts are clear and balanced without leaving me feeling shortchanged on anything.

I'm also intrigued by the mercenary/assassin, Sable. We first meet him in Episode 1 and in this episode his part in the plot brings him closer to the primary characters. I have all sorts of ideas how he might fit in and look forward to seeing if any of them are correct.

Looking forward to more magic and mayhem. Equilibrium continues to be a very enjoyable read.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Review: The Last Quarrel: Episode 4 by Duncan Lay

Fallon and Prince Cavan are getting closer to the truth. They are tantalisingly close to discovering who is really behind the evil inside the country. Or is this all a trap and they are merely about to blunder into it? Meanwhile Bridgit, without her husband and son, is discovering that she has also left her fears behind and, just when they most need it, her enslaved people are getting a most unlikely leader …


This is shaping into a really enjoyable series. With each episode, the stakes rise and Fallon and Bridgit's problems get much, much bigger. Each episode is well paced, building on the tension of the previous and as with the others, the ending had me jump right into the next.

I also like the world Lay has built grows with each episode without losing its roots in the settings and places of earlier episodes.

No idea how everything will work out but I will find out very soon. Lay has surprised me so many time all I can do is hold on tight and keep reading.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Review: Equilibrium: Episode 1 by C.S. Sealey

The Spirits' ancient equilibrium is brought into being when the twelfth mage is finally found. But Angora is unlike those who have come before her and she refuses to blindly accept her fate.

The Ayons have mysteriously retreated from a far-reaching southern offensive, ordered back by their newly crowned king. 

In the aftermath of this battle, Angora is washed up on the shore of a foreign land, bruised and battered, determined to keep her past a secret from all. Rescued from slavers, yet immediately falling prey to others, she is thrust into a war not her own.

Proclaimed one of twelve legendary mages, Angora is charged with protecting the innocent with magic beyond her imagination. 

But a dark future awaits her and her friends as the Ayon threat begins to swell once more in the north.


Personally, I'd find writing a multi-POV, two warring nations, episodic fantasy novel a grand and intimidating task. With different kinds of magic, people and places not always what they seem and a ton of world building and placement of characters within not to mention grabbing the reader's attention and endearing us to the right characters AND doing it all in the first instalment is no small achievement.

Episode 1 of Equilibrium proved to me these insecurities are my issues entirely. Sealey puts all these pieces together in a balanced way, settling me in to her world and presenting an intriguing introduction to the story. Her intimate knowledge of her world and characters is clear and I appreciate how solid her pace and tone is. I understand Equilibrium has been in the works for several years and I felt her mastery of this work in her consistency through the chapters.

Equilibrium has been serialized into six parts. This first one follows young Angora though we meet the mages of Ayon first and get to know them before we learn they are set to be the enemy. Sealey gives us a good sense of the internal challenges in both Ayon and Ronnesia, both have good and bad, equilibrium, in themselves. I found this balance to be well presented since I like both sides thus far.

This instalment puts Sealey's players in place and introduces us to both sides. They have been at war for a long time and both suffer their own turmoil.

Ambitious? Yep, you bet but so far quite digestible and I've enjoyed watching Sealey's world take shape. I look forward to more magic, intrigue and fantasy in the next instalment.

I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Review: Dragonfly by Erica Hayes

Carrie Thatcher is a tough Imperial counter-terrorism agent. Her mission: pose as a sexy cyber-thief to entrap the notorious rebel Dragonfly, who’s planning a heist on the space station Casa de Esperanza – an orbital casino on the fringe of Imperial space.

And this assignment’s personal: Dragonfly murdered her closest friend, and she’s in no mood to show him mercy. Even getting stuck with the partner from hell—Malachite, her sociopathic ex-lover and the Empire’s most dangerous agent—can’t dampen her relish for the kill.

With Carrie’s expert weapons skills and penchant for cracking codes, insinuating herself into Dragonfly’s confidence should be easy. But is he the ruthless killer she was led to believe? Or has her precious Empire deceived her? With Malachite watching her every move, the slightest flinch in loyalty means death.

Carrie is soon racing to uncover an audacious treachery that will shock the Empire to its core … if she can stay alive for long enough to expose it.


This one caught my eye when I was browsing the publisher's website. It looked like a good fit for the scifi/adventure tear I've been on and I sure enjoyed it.

First off, I appreciated the well layered main characters Carrie and Dragonfly. Both have pasts, presents and goals which are revealed as they develop. Revelations and challenges make them more complex and real while stripping them down to who they really are. Not only are they they sums of their experiences but they also have the effects of those experiences peeled away for us. Make sense? Good.

I also really liked the strong, pushy, self-centred urban fantasy first person heroine in a romantic scifi. It's a very empowered POV I always enjoy and even in moments of weakness Carrie remains sturdy. This book holds to urban fantasy right down to the "someone is good with animals and has a furry pet" bit. Perfect.

Hayes direct and descriptive writing pushed me to stay engaged with the story and didn't let up its hold on the action or settings. She gives us smells and scents (yes, Hayes definitely shows us the distinction), dirt, sweat and so many unique bits of tech, security and booby traps the world she built is both amazing and immersive.

Loved this read! Recommended for both UF and scifirom readers. Excellent action doesn't let up and won't let you put it down.