Sunday 23 October 2022

A Prince's Errand (Tales of the Amulet Book 1)

AuthorsDan & Robert Zangari
eBook Publisher: LOK Publishing
eBook Date: December 2019
First Published: 2019
Pages: 961
Cover Artist: Kerem Beyit

This time it's the turn of the main story in the Legends of Kalda series, Tales of the Amulet. The first book in this series is called A Prince's Errand, also written by father and son writing partnership of Dan and Robert Zangari.

As I said in my previous post, although this novel was published bfore the prequel The Prisoner of Tardalim, I had already decided to read it after that book. The story is set in exactly the same world as it's prequel, the world of Kalda, with only a few decades (I assume as its never actually defined) having past. The main character in the prequel, Amendal Aramien, is present in A Prince's Errand but only in the peripheral sense, being a wizened old mage that others refer to occasionally. 

Due to the span of time that has elapsed, the number of magic weilders and the number of magical items, called 'tevisrals' is not as prevalent in this time period. The world of Kalda is starting to slowly forget about mythical creatures and historical facts are becoming myths told by parents to their children. The world is still at war, with many nations engaging in espionage and trickery to gain an advantage over thier enemies. The land of Soroth is still on friendly terms with the vastly wealthier nation of Mindolarn, but that alliance is strained as a number of Mindolarnian Emporers are being assassinated at a rather alarming rate.

The death of the latest Emporer is witnessed by Prince Kaescis Midivar and his sister. The Prince swears to avenge his family and maintain his empire's standing by searching the world for information and secrets of the Keepers of Truth and Might, a long forgetton order of beings who protected the world from harm.

Sunday 16 October 2022

The Prisoner of Tardalim (A Tale of the Amulet Prequel)

Authors: Dan & Robert Zangari
eBook Publisher: LOK Publishing
eBook Date: June 2021
First Published: 2021
Pages: 817
Cover Artist: Kerem Beyit

It's been a long time since I posted a review. Maybe the books I've been reading just haven't been as inspiring as I need them to be in order to be in the 'right' mood for a review? Maybe I got a bit burned out, (all of my own making), from feeling the pressure to update the blog? Or just possibly, the types of genres of the books I've been reading finally got to me and I needed a rest? Whatever it was, I'm glad that I seem to have my mojo back, and more reviews will be following (both on this blog as well as in print if various editors like my submissions).

I'm going to start of with a couple of High/Epic Fantasy novels that I completed whilst on holiday in the last few weeks. Both come from the pen(s) of father and son writing partnership - Dan and Robert Zangari, and take place within their fantasy realm of Kalda. To start off, we are going to look at The Prisoner of Tardalim.

The Zangaris have been self-publishing for a few years now, and have created their own publishing house, Legend of Kalda (LOK for short). So far they have published a few novels and a handful of short stories based in their world. In some ways I consider them in the same arena as Michael J. Sullivan, who has flirted with self-publishing recently to great success (in my opinion) with his Legends of the First Empire sequence and its' follow up, The Rise and Fall

In addition, the Zangaris (like Sullivan) have used Kickstarter to initiate some of their products. I'm a big fan of Kickstarter as you'll notice from Digital Bibliophilia's twitter account, where I occassionally post tweets highlighting my support of various fiction products - admittedly most of which are heavily linked with Sherlock Holmes. There are a lot of writers and would-be authors who use this platform to try and get their work out into the 'real' world and I have to say that based upon my experience with this product (and Sullivan's, albeit after having been published), it's one that you shouldn't ignore - there are some really good pieces work out there.

Thursday 6 January 2022

Plum Island (John Corey #1)

AuthorNelson Demille
eBook Publisher: Sphere
eBook Date: September 2008
First Published: 1997
Pages: 574

I've read two books by Nelson DeMille, and both of them have been superb reads. A few years ago I read Up Country, about a former Army Criminal Investigator by the name of Paul Brenner, who is asked to visit Vietnam in order to look into a 30 year old murder. The main character is revisiting his former posting and a lot of the book covered him retracing his steps. It didn't sound like something I would like as the Vietname War is not a conflict I'm very familair with or particularly intersted in, but the sheer power of the writing drew me in and kept me enthralled throughout.

With that pleasant reading experience in mind, I decided to finally take a chance on another novel by Demille. I was in the mood for a good book by an American modern adventure author along the lines of a Clive Cussler, or a Tom Clancy, and I was really surpised and dissapointed that neither of these two were in stock on the shelves of a number of my local Charity shops here in the UK - but I did finally spot a pristine copy of Plum Island for a very reasonable £1, so nabbed it quickly and abandoned the boring book I'd been wading through to immediately start it. 

Nelson Demille was born in 1943 in the city of New York and soon moved out to Long Island. After a stint in the US Army during the late sixties in the aforementioned Vietnam War - where he was awarded the Air Medal, Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and Combat Infantryman Badge - he returned to education in order to earn a degree in Political Science and History. He had a string of jobs, but freely admits they "were so boring, I missed Vietnam." His first major novel under his real name was called By the Rivers of Babylon, published in 1978. Before this he had written under a few pen names, particularly as the author of the Ryker series from Leisure Books.

Sunday 21 November 2021


Author: Frank Herbert
eBook Publisher: Gateway
eBook Date: Dec 2010
First Published: 1965
Pages: 592
Cover Art: Bruce Pennington

After including Dune in my list of favourite books of all time back in August, I knew I was going to have to give it a re-read. So, hot on the heels of a visit to the cinema to see the new adaptation by Denis Villeneuve (I was very impressed), I was even more keen to get stuck in. 

My overall concern with a re-read was that my first impression of the book, read as a young man in the late seventies/early eighties, might have been clouded by nostalgia. Sometimes the books you read as a young person, and are mightily impressed with at the time, don't necessarily have the same impact when visited as a more mature reader. The antagonist of Dune, Paul Atreides, is a 15 year old boy - probably the same age as myself when I first encountered it. Would that fact have had a major influence on my regard for the story? I vividly recall holding the paperback by NEL, with the classic Pennington cover, in my hands and devouring it at every opportunity - it was the biggest book I'd ever read at the time. I still remember seeing it in the bookshop, the thick blue spine looked so different next to all the other thinner science fiction novels on the same shelf. It 'felt' good to hold; it looked cool and it didn't have numbered chapters.

Unless you've been living under a stone (or alone in the desert) for the last 50 years, you'll know the general story of Dune. A family by ther name of House Atreides is tasked by ruling Emporer Padishah Shaddam IV with taking over the control of the planet Arrakis. The Royal decree also demands that Duke Leto and his family maintain the production of Arrakis's major export, the spice named Melange. Melange is a powerful drug that allows humans to attain amazing feats with just the power of their minds. One of these feats is the action of folding space across the vast exapnse of the universe, thus allowing interstellar flight between planets and systems - a momentous achievement that has literally brought about the forming of the human Imperium.

Leto is unable to refuse the request of the Emperor, but he and his advisors know that this is a doomed venture. They have been sent to an inhospitable planet entirely covered by a vast desert. The inhabitants of Arrakis are the native Fremen, a reclusive and secretive nation of wandering tribes who are able to survive on incredibly restricitve diets and very little water, whilst also hiding the true size and complexity of thier communities from thier foreign oppressors in the depths of the oceans of sand on thier planet.

Thursday 19 August 2021

My Top Twenty Books of all time - Fiction & Non-fiction - July 2021

I didn't think I'd ever do this sort of entry on Digital Bibliophilia. However, inspired by a recent new entry in to this list, and fuelled by a couple of pints on my first night out drinking with work colleagues in nearly two years, I find myself unable to sleep and worried that anything I read will be forgotten in a haze of alcoholic fuzz the next morning. Therefore here we go - I hope it's mildly interesting or leads to someone picking up ones of the books in this list because I think they are fabulous.

So here we go, and in no particular order...

Collected Stories: Raymond Chandler (Everyman's library, No.257) (2002)

I love Chandler. Reading any of his works of fiction is a pleasure every human being should experience at least once in their life. Although his novels are mostly works of genius, I actually preferred this massive collection of his short-form works. This is one book you can't carry around with you - at over 1,300 pages you'll end up with forearms like Popeye the Sailor. Just sit back in your favourite wing-back chair with a bottle of whisky and savour every moment.

The Quincunx: The Inheritance of John Huffam (1995)

I never would have dreamed a book like this would end up being something I'd ever admit to saying was an all-time favourite of mine. I do like to read Charles Dickens every now and again (there's a Dickens biography staring at me on my bookshelf every day - I'll get around to it at some point). This is very much influenced by Dickensian tales. A labyrinthine colossus of a novel over 1,200 pages in length in paperback form that follows the life of a Victorian young man who has no memory of his father, and whose doting mother holds a precious codicil of a last will and testament in a small trinket that never leaves her side. As his life takes turn after turn, and tragedy after tragedy befalls him - he never loses sight of the fact that something on that document hides the secret to his claim to a family fortune. A mesmerising and compelling masterpiece of a novel that is even meticulously structured (word by word) so that the sentence in the middle of the book reveals the secret to our protagonists background (good luck counting the words!).

Shackleton (1989)

A biography of Ernest Shackleton, the famous polar explorer, by Roland Huntford. There are quite a few books on Shackleton by now, but this was one of the earliest, if not the first, to really cover his life, and his astonishing exploration to the South Pole. If you think the notion of old-fashioned heroes is a myth - you need to read the true story of how this man lead his colleagues out of the jaws of hell and, quite literally, across the frozen landscape of Antarctica whilst dragging a boat behind them so they could sail to a desolate island; and then leave them behind whilst he went off on an almost suicidal mission to go and seek out a rescue party to come back to save them. A stone-cold (no pun intended) winner for best biography I'll ever read in my life. Forget anyone who says Captain Scott was a better hero - this guy makes Scott feel like a wuss. If you only have room for one biography on your bookshelf - get this!

Saturday 31 July 2021

Imager (The Imager Portfolio #1)

Author: L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
eBook Publisher: Tor Books
eBook Date: Mar 2009
Pages: 529
Cover Art: Donato Giancola

Off of the back of the majestic light-fantasy/historical mashup that was The Initiate Brother, I was in the mood to spread my fantasy genre wings a bit more broadly, so I decided to delve headfirst into heavyweight territory and begin a series by prolific author L E Modesitt Jr. This series is collected together as The Imager Portfolio and consists of a total of twelve books at the time of writing.

This is full on fantasy with a captial "F". However, rather than wrapping this up in medieval society trappings with winged horses, dwarves, elves, hobbits and the suchlike, here we have a refeshingly advanced setting more in common with the Industrial Revolution and early Victoriana where there are (at least in this first book) no fantastical creatures to populate the pages or plot.

Modesitt has been around a while, and I was already well aware of his range of work and knew that he invests himself into fairly lengthy book series (The Saga of Recluse being the one I see everytime I wander around a bookshop - I think he's up to something like book 22 by now?), so I was prepared to invest a sizeable chunk of my time, and had an idea that with The Imager Portfolio already being listed at twelve installments of fairly lengthy novels this was going to potentially not be a fast-paced opener.

I wasn't wrong, Imager takes its time to tell its' story. However, Modesitt does it with such panache and skill that you cannot be anything but impressed. He has achieved that uncanny talent of making a day-to-day journal seem a lot more interesing than it should be. Hats off to him for that. Just when you start to think, oh this is getting a bit repetitive now, he pull out a surprise or two to keep things fresh or buck you up out of your seat and keep reading. Imager is one of those books that keep you wanting to read "just one more chapter before bed". It helps that the chapters are short too - I always find myself reading novels with short chapters so much quicker than ones with the opposite.