11 June 2019
Web of Eyes – Buried Goddess #1 – Rhett Bruno & Jamie Castle
I don’t actually read a lot of Fantasy, preferring Sci-Fi, but being a fan of Rhett Bruno’s work, I had to have a read, and the premise of the book sounded interesting as well. This book is just a lot of fun, with some good characters, an excellent story and I have to say, I liked the blood magic. There are some that may not consider this 'Hard Core Fantasy', but that is always the case with this type of book. Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride, and enjoy the humour, this is most definitely worth the read.
The main story involves a young prince who has a particular item with him, a Drav Cra Doll, that it is believed when crafted properly can contain the bearers soul. An evil magic user, who uses something called ‘blood-magic’ which was an interesting concept in the story, takes the Princes doll, as well as cursing the child. The Queen, who is now in command as the King has passed commands that anyone who can should try and find this doll.
They live in what is known as ‘The Glass Kingdom’, and guarding them are the Kings Guard, and at the head of the Kings Guard, is the Wearer of White, Sworn Protector of the Glass Kingdom, in this story a Knight known as Torsten Unger.
Torsten vows to get the doll back, but not without help.
So that is the kind of serious part of the story, and then we have the less serious part, in which we have Whitney Firestown, and whoever had the fun of writing him, it is a culmination of so many different humourous characters, all rolled into one. At times he is a little over done, but you can look past that for the sheer fun he brings to the story. Whitney is the (Insert Air Quotes), Greatest Thief in the known Kingdom, and through a series of events, is cornered into going with Torsten.
Their goal isn’t quite so easy though, as they have to enter some dreaded wood, in which a horrendous Spider creature of your worst nightmares lives, feeding on anything she can, but preferably humans. It is kind of like Shelob meets Medusa.
There are several other characters as well, but one of note is Sora, Whitneys childhood friend, who he has not seen in a while, but he runs into and she ends up coming along. She is also a ‘Blood Mage’, and this gives the story a few extra twists, but a somewhat familiar ending.
Overall, there are some good concepts, some fun things, some downright gruesome and horrendous things, and some good fantasy adventure. The fight scenes are well played out, and the story is an easy and enjoyable read.
As I said, I don’t do a lot of Fantasy, but after finishing this, I went and got parts 2 and 3, as I knew I was going to enjoy them. For those who want a good adventure story, some good characters (well Whitney is more funny than good!), and something that you don't want to meet in a dark alley, (or a haunted wood), this is is most definitely worth the read!!
The narration on this is just outstanding, Luke Daniels continues to be a stand-out as one of the best narrators on the Audible list today. His range of voices is just incredible, and his clarity and ease of listening make him a joy to listen to regardless of what he is doing. With this he brought to life the gruff Knight Torsten, the Queen who is both a sociopathic Queen, but also a distressed Mother, and lets not forget Whitney. My favourite though would be Sora, who he managed to create with her own special charm and mystique. Daniels is brilliant, and adds even more life to the story giving it an extra edge I don’t think it had with the written word.
Winds of War – Buried Goddess #2 – Rhett Bruno & Jamie Castle
Winds of War picks up from the end of Web of Eyes, were Pantega has suffered a lot at the hands of Queen Oleander in her attempt to find her son, the new King. Torsten is the new Wearer after the death of Lord Davies, and Whitney and Sora are off together ‘Playing’ at thieving, so that Sora can understand all of Whitney’s rules.
In the meantime, a massive Shesaitju army has come to threaten the Glass Kingdom.
Torsten is also worried about the King, the Queen and the whole Kingdom given that the Queen’s treacherous own brother Redstar is now a part of King Pi’s Council, and worse still, Torsten is forced to take Redstar and a contingent of Drav Cra as allies in any up coming battles or even discussions with the Foreign Army.
The opening of the book sets the scene for the remainder of the book, with difficult Political issues within the Glass Kingdom for the newly installed King Pi, who is just twelve, and acting rather strange, and odd, having been risen from the dead. The Queen is no longer in power, with a constant struggle for power between Pi (who is being guided, whether magically or not, by Redstar), Torsten as he struggles to assert himself in his new position as wearer, but to get everyone to see the danger they are in, and to try and fill the shoes of Uriah Davies, and of course Redstar himself, who even whilst acting for Pi, seems to act on his own as well.
The Political Intrigue of the capital is masterful as you watch various pieces moved about like those on a chess board, but with some characters having no clue of what is happening or what is coming. The twists, turns and game playing that occurs in this 2nd book is enough to make Game of Throne’s fans sit back and go ‘Huh!’ with a grin on their faces.
Add to that the incredible fight scenes that occur in this book, the descriptions of the various characters as they do battle is just stunning, and you find yourself glued to the book, reading these breathe-taking combat scenes.
But just to make sure that things never get too serious, there is also Whitney Blissslayer, who is not only a great character as far as his involvement for the story, etc, but the comedic acts that go on between him and Torsten, as well as Sora make this book worth reading just for these sections alone. As with Web of Eyes, Whitney goes out of his way to wind up Torsten like a Jack in the Box. It was funny in part 1, it is funnier in Part 2. Castle and Bruno are obviously had a lot of fun writing these parts.
And that is what makes this book so brilliant. There is the comedy with Whitney, Torsten and Sora, Political Intrigue between Torsten, Redstar, King Pi and Queen Oleander. There is utter despair, and tragedy when Torsten goes to see a broken Rand, and Psychotic glee from Redstar when he is on the field of battle with his Warlocks.
The characters are all exceptionally well written, with detailed back stories, and in a finely crafted world. The world building had been done with exquisite detail, from the Beautiful Glass Towers of the Kingdom, to the muddy battlefields throughout the various war zones.
Web of Eyes was a brilliant start to the Series, and Winds of War continues it in outstanding style. Can’t wait to see what Will of Fire brings us!!
If you liked the first one, you have to read this one, and if you haven’t gotten into the series, now is the time to jump on board to what is going to be one of the series of the year. Don’t miss out, it’s too much fun!!
Will of Fire – Buried Goddess #3 – Rhett Bruno & Jamie Castle
The first two books in this series were good, but they were just practice runs for this final book.
This is the culmination of the first 2 books, were it all comes together in an epic confrontation.
Redstar has been incredibly crafty and using his guile and magic has taken control of the throne through the young King, leaving Queen Oleander on the out, and unable to have any influence over her son.
Meanwhile, Whitney is stuck in what appears to be the afterlife, or what is more commonly known as ‘Elsewhere’, and Sora has trapped him there with the Vampire, not by fault, but in a desperate attempt to save his life.
Now she is trying everything she can to rescue him, and as such, she seeks out everyone and everything she must to gain the power and knowledge to get to him.
As she does so, she finds that all is not what it seems, that she is not what she thought, and (without giving too much away), we suddenly realise that Sora is far more powerful than anything we ever considered. She is also tied to a lot of different things that we hadn’t previously known, and this suddenly this story with its epic beginning in the forest, and the building of war in the second part, takes on a whole new light.
Whilst there are some things that do come to a climatic confrontation, and as such closure in this part, this only opens more doors and questions, making this story compelling on a multitude of levels.
Once again, the character work is just exceptional. Sora is not just enchanting, she is totally enthralling in this particular part, and you find yourself wanting to jump sections to find out what has happened to her. The development of Sora throughout the series has been absolutely extraordinary, and she is easily the best character in this series and the one to watch coming up.
Whitney as usual continues to stumble about in his own personal ‘hell’, but as he does so, he actually begins to learn things about himself, and this part of the story was utterly fascinating on a psychological level.
As usual Torstens character was just brilliant, locked away in prison, and waiting for his only one hope, a loyal Glassman, such as Rand to free him to go and fight Redstar. Torsten’s tortured soul continues to be a fascinating character as we learn more and more of his history, his relationship with the Queen, and read about his current exploits.
One of the standouts of the minor characters was Rand, having drifted off after his role with the Queen in part 2, and now a shattered drunk from murdering so many souls, the description and portrayal of Rand is just brilliant.
Part 1 and 2 of this story were outstanding, but they are only mediocre in comparison to the excellence that is Part 3, it is just so good. If you have not started this series, you have to get into it now.
I don’t normally read Fantasy, but this was too good to miss (Especially being a huge fan of Bruno’s work, I had to read it, and Jaime Castle is just a total legend), this is epic fantasy at its best.
Exceptional characters, a gripping, powerful storyline, and an outstanding world – this will be one of the Fantasy books of the year!!