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Roderick Donald

Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

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7 November 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Nathan Jones

RRP: £7.99 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £2.99 / $4.12 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Imagine, if you will, a world that blends The Matrix, Mortal Engines and TRON, - this would go some way to giving you just a taste of the mind-blowingly brilliant world that Nathan Jones has given us in Travelling Without Moving. In fact, it's fair to say that, right from the off, this book, even in light of the comparisons, is genuinely unlike anything we've ever read before.

Focusing on Napalm Carton, the story explores his self awareness of the world he lives in (Kaputt) and the suspicions he has about the very reality around him. A mystery that takes you right up to the last drops of ink to unravel.

The exploration of multi-faceted aspects of reality is realised in lavish detail. From the moment we see Mokey taking Napalm's Willy Wonka-esque, mind-enhancing concoction we are catapulted into his game like world - and like all good stories, it has a beginning, a middle and an end. Jones' world-building is king here; the lore, the sounds, the shapes and the very fabric of the detail he paints, enwraps the reader in totality. It's like putting on a VR headset and being immersed in a new world; you completely forget everything around you and focus only on everything before you.

The disparity between The Americas (the Western half of Kaputt) and Kaputt Real (the Eastern half), is almost akin to The Man In The High Castle; the West VS East 'us and them' duality, almost serves as an underlying theme throughout the book - in many different forms. On this front, Jones' work feels very much on a higher intellectual plain than you may at first think. There's purpose and planning that slowly reveals itself in several 'Aha!' moments, or even back-pocketed until the very end. It's impressive to say the least. 

There was a section in the book that reminded me of a kids TV show I watched, growing up, called Knightmare, in which a team of kids enter a virtual reality type game world, where they have to survive on their wits, whilst making smart choices along the way. Every now and then they would arrive in a room with a table which has a selection of items you need to choose from - I couldn't help but feel pangs on nostalgia as I read that paragraph:

"The scullery door, yes, a scullery door, was locked. He didn’t have the key, and he needed to get out. That was all that mattered. On the table sat a selection of items: a pocketknife, a compass, a box of matches, a tin pot of glue, a length of copper wire, and a hessian sack of quick-rice.   ‘Ok,’ he said, his voice flat and mechanical.  ‘Classic locked room puzzle, I reckon.  How do we get out of here?’

It also made me sit up and realise just how worrying the prospect is of being trapped somewhere you *know* just doesn’t feel right. That every move you make is somehow pre-determined or destined to be outplayed. It can be a real rabbit-hold moment for the reader if you truly allow yourself to be immersed in the allegory.

From the clockwork sun of Kaputt's bio-dome, to the rich tapestry of realities, characters, cultures and devices, Travelling Without Moving is truly a ground-breaking piece of literature that captivates the imagination, frees the mind and ensnares the reader in Jones' mastery.

There's a hell of a cliffhanger, too - one that Doctor Who itself would be proud of. With the seeming promise of more adventures to come, this epic work - and it really IS epic - will take some beating. 


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3 November 2021

Publisher: The Pencil Princess Workshop

Written By: R.L.S. Hoff

RRP: £9.44 / $12.99 (Paperback) | £2.43 / $3.34 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

R.L.S. Hoff's Leaving Hope is a futuristic SciFi story that focuses on Anya - a strong female lead who is desperate to live up to the book's title by leaving the titular spaceship 'Hope' and join the team colonising the planet Shindashir. The wonderful thing about Anya’s s strength is how it builds throughout the course of the book - yes you have that strong-willed seed at the beginning, but there’s a hell of a journey for her. 

Hoff's world-building has to be commended first and foremost. Every word on the page has meaning and purpose and through her deliciously descriptive writing, Anya's life and her immediate world, jumps out of the book in such a rich, detailed way. 

Sometimes in life there are paths that are set before us that we don't want to take; choices that are made for us that we don't necessarily want to act on. This theme, for us at least, was the beating heart of Leaving Hope. The ability to know what is expected of you and the conflict of what you *really* want to do, was palpable here, and every wall Anya smashes through results in an air punch moment for the reader.

Leaving Hope lends a warm comparison to The Little Mermaid, but in space; a girl who has dreams and aspirations beyond her position, going against her father's wishes. This is no bad thing, by the way, it merely represents an interesting narrative that clearly follows a trend throughout history - even fictional nautical tales! Just like its comparative counterpart, you realise the safety and assurance in what's set before you, but long for the excitement of that alternative path.

Worthy of note is just how diverse the story is; there are a fantastic set of characters - each with poignance and purpose, and each with varying backgrounds. Ethnicity also plays an important role, and it's so refreshing that it isn't just touched on or glanced over, but intrinsic to plot points throughout.

The ending is magnificent; we won't spoil it, but despite being a book series, it's self contained and leaves the reader more than satisfied. We particularly loved the arc in which Anya has throughout the book, and where she ultimately ends up. So much can be said for strong female leads, but to see one written in such an interesting, intelligent, and well-thought-out way that Hoff manages to do so effortlessly, makes the journey she has, so much more poignant. A genuinely brilliant read and cannot wait to see what's next in store for the series.


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27 October 2021

Publisher: Three Ravens Publishing

Written By: John Drake

RRP: £12.00 / $25.84 (Paperback) | £4.25 / $5.86 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

I’m definitely not the first person to compare John Drake’s Zoomers to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams, and I certainly won’t be the last. The plot, after all, revolves around a typically English character being whisked away from Earth into a madcap, hilarious sci-fi adventure.

The Arcadian people—if you can call tentacled creatures people—have decided the end of the universe is nigh. Doubting their own ability to avert the ultimate disaster, General Buck—a tea and biscuit obsessed leader—and Professor Doubt, decide to enlist the aide of a human. Their logic is that, since Earthlings tend to obsess over meaningless details and often ignore the major devastating issues in life, a human might be able to provide a completely different viewpoint on the end of everything.    

So, Scratch, a Southend-on-Sea professional burglar, is “Zoomed”, mid-job, to Arcadia, by Pdnrtk (otherwise known as Terry). Unexpectedly, Scratch does not arrive alone. He’s accompanied by Mr. Reisback, a retired human resources manager who is obsessed with the imminent delivery of his new sofa, Cantina, a Swiss pharmacogenomicist, and Glorious, the well-groomed, female plumber to the king of Kenya.

Before they begin training Scratch et al to collect data from on the demise of individual planets, Corporal Cauliflower (a “miserable optimist”) and Sargent Bakewell must practice the task themselves, Zooming through space and time to various, unexpectedly dull planets, when all they really want to do is head to the Moon Shots bar for a glass of Pomplefitzer and “cheerful”.

Elsewhere, in the Arcadian Production Corporation, Jod, Quality Control Engineer, Fourth Class, has a regrettable accident with his iron wedding ring on the lithium bracelet production line. It results in the creation of the universe’s first conscious alloy. This gift of self-awareness and intelligence spreads quickly across inanimate items, resulting in attempts to overthrow their sentient overlords in ways you would never conceive.

Despite Zoomers obvious parallels with Adam’s works—is it possible to write a space comedy without such comparisons being made?—Drake definitely has his own, individual style. Firstly, his plot moves much faster, thereby cramming more comical content into a similar space. Secondly, he focuses much more on dialogue than description. And last but not least, if you can possibly imagine so, the plot is even more eccentric and ridiculous than those of the Hitchhiker’s series.

For me, the highlight of the book is definitely the farcical dialogue of a host of characters who all—except possibly Scratch—appear to have serious mental misgivings. Each and every scene seems comparable to a stand-up routine full of wordplay, quips, and humorous miscommunication. Following Scratch through the bizarre plot gives the reader a perfect grounding, however, as he’s a plain-speaking, no-nonsense kind of chap, with the ability to see through all the nonsense thrown at him to the heart of the matter.

If you’re in need of a seriously good laugh, Zoomers is for you.


+  Zoomers is Out Now!
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24 September 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jeremy Dwyer

RRP: £0.77 / $1.06 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Our latest fantasy review is for Jeremy Dwyer's Potion Voyages series, as we delve into Book 1: Castle & Conceit.

Right from the start the author launches straight into his world-building, and immediately paints a vivid  world, rich in detail and description. Hot blue suns, far-reaching oceans and jewel-encrusted palaces tease the menu of the delicacies to come in this epic fantasy series.

Written in third-person prose, the writing style works wonderfully in an almost 'Fighting Fantasy' type way, and any character interactions are made all the more prominent because of this.

Speaking of characters, we have a terrifically diverse cast here; from the magical Taesa, the conflicted historian, Judith, to the deliciously evil Prince Octavian and his equally despicable advisor Cassius, to the awful Keallach (Captain of the Burning Bones). There are many more, but these were among our favourites.

As with all good fantasy, this is a tale of good vs evil, but rather more than that, what's interesting is the various levels between each - on both sides, and the clever way in which Dwyer plays them off against each other. The empire that Octavian, and moreso, Cassius is building, neatly and cleverly ties into key players throughout the book, and it interesting seeing the conflict in those with better intentions.

There is a brilliant magic system, which isn't complex and really invigorates the plot through its perfectly peppered usage - rather genuinely it all ties into the water-based theme that is current throughout the story.

Perhaps most genius of all is Dwyer's ability to pull in an audible experience to the Potion Voyages series. Those of you with access to SoundCloud, will find a selection of free music that go hand-in-hand with those referenced in the book. Chapter 10's 'Praise Every Sun Upon The Sea' is a wonderful, almost lamentful song, sung by Taesa. It's incredibly immersive and genuinely adds to the overall experience, and we HIGHLY recommend you make use of it when reading.

When you get to the end you just know this is the start of something much bigger, and kudos to the author in his craftsmanship of this entire world and its rich detail and characters. Here's looking excitedly towards Book 2!


+  Potion Voyages - Book 1: Castle & Conceit is Out Now!
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24 September 2021

Publisher: Fresh Ink Group

Written By: Robert G. Williscroft

RRP: £3.57 / $20.54 (Paperback) | £2.16 / $2.95 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Icicle: A Tensor Matrix, is the first book in the Oort Chronicles by Robert G. Williscroft - a story that holds no bars in its opening prologue. Right from the off we are thrown right into the action as our protagonist, Millionaire, Braxton Thorpe, dies of prostate cancer and is whisked off to have his head cryogenically preserved. And just like that...BOOM!...we head forward in time by 100 years, straight into the 22nd Century, where Braxton wakes to come to terms with his new *ahem* life.

This is a bold opening gambit from Williscroft, and one that works so well due to the 'matter of fact' drive in which he pushes the story forward. One could be forgiven for drawing comparisons to The Matrix and Tron, where similar themes are explored - however - it is our sincerest belief that Williscroft actually trumps the aforementioned with this thrilling new take on uploading one's consciousness to a digital mainframe.

Despite being told in third-person prose, you feel every moment of pain and anguish that Braxton goes through. In fact, anyone who has had paralytic sleep, will find a rather eerie parallel in some of the moments our protagonist goes through.

Let's make no mistake, this is Science Fiction - and really good SciFi at that, but Williscroft's evident knowledge of technology and science, shines through to make this feel more like a foreshadowing of what will come to pass. Every technological detail is described in such detail that it's almost tangible to the reader, which make feel all the more intimate a read.

There's interstellar travel, wormholes, aliens and the threat of inter-planetary war, which, together with Braxton's personal and wider quest, adds up to one hell of an adventure. Not bad for a dead man!

We're thrilled to report this is only the first book in a planned series, and eagerly await the follow-up!


+  Icicle: A Tensor Matrix: The First Oort Chronicle is Out Now!
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19 September 2021

Publisher: Melange Books

Written By: Arrendle

RRP: £14.94 / $22.91 (Paperback) | £4.74 / $6.51 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

Arrendle's debut novel, The Dragon Within: The Threat of Crowns, is an incredibly engaging fantasy adventure story with a refreshing take on the standard tropes of the fantasy genre. I truly loved every moment of this read, and even skipped a meal to continue reading.

The Dragon Within is set on a world of five distinct and isolated realms: Ahan, home of the sparkling star people; Mazati Iskus, where the vibrational sound people live; Badari, home to animal-headed humans (with a clear nod to Ancient Egypt); Wazari Eren, the realm of humans; and Indu, home of the shadow people. Each realm also has its associated type of Dragon, but at the point the book begins, dragons are believed to be merely mythical creatures.

Arrendle provides us with a comprehensive historic set-up to the story, but I’m not going to spoil it by revealing it here. I’ll just say that rather than giving the history as inactive exposition, it’s told through wonderfully immersive real-time events.

Once we’ve been grounded, the story begins. We get to follow the cocky, arrogant antagonist, Samil, as he attempts to unleash a terrible power upon the world, and his mysterious “co-conspirator”. Aubra, a powerful, ancient wizard, sets off to re-form the Magnus Concilium (magic council) in order to stop Samil, and is aided by his adopted daughter, Eshney, and an old friend, Char. Eshney must make a brave journey into learning the skills of magic as Char struggles with the complex, confusing assault of emotions that spur from his recent transformation into human form. And, of course, there’s a charming story of blossoming love woven throughout the main plot.

The descriptions as we travel through the fantastical realms are nothing short of beautiful. Arrendle’s use of language to conjure up such intricately woven societies and breathe life into peoples who look, operate, move, speak, and even think differently is stunning. In fact, Arrendle’s descriptions are delightful throughout; I believe a forty-two word sentence to describe laughter may be a record breaker!

The second big highlight is the novel’s comprehensive, very real journey through the thoughts and emotions of the main characters. They’re some of the best painted characters I’ve encountered. It’s a real pity this is a stand-alone novel, as it would have made an excellent series of books.

I could wax lyrical about this book for some time, but I’ll conclude by saying the epic ending, expertly bringing together all the elements and diverse characters encountered throughout the book, is one of the most satisfying and rewarding endings I’ve ever read.


+  The Dragon Within: The Threat Of Crowns is Out Now!
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16 September 2021

Publisher: There Is No Design LLC

Written By: K. Leigh

RRP: £8.44 / $12.06 (Paperback) | £4.31 / $5.97 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

If Space Opera with an LGBTQ+ twist is your thing, you would go far to find a more satisfying story than that of K. Leigh's Constelis Voss Vol.1: Colour Theory.

Our story centres on Alex, a human who has been reincarnated as a robot on board the titular Constelis Voss - a planet-sized spaceship. We follow Alex' struggle for self-understanding and acceptance in his new form, as he ventures into a much wider mystery with good and evil in the balance. We flip-flop between the far future and 90's New York with both settings brought to life in meticulous detail.

Never before have we seen colour used in a story in such a beautiful way. First and foremost they are used as descriptors, but much more than that they almost act as a poetic canvas that highlights the LGBTQ+ beating heart of the book. At the beginning of Colour Theory, the author states:

"I aim to let my readers know I see them in all their complicated inner paintings"

It is this statement that constantly hits home throughout the story. No matter who you are, inside or out, you can't help but find some form of recognition and representation within the pages of this truly unique novel.

It's a given that there is diversity in the story, but nothing prepares you for just how vivid, real and almost tactile that these characters feel. There is an intimacy in Leigh's writing that makes you feel you are inches away from them and that you are more than just an observer.

There are some strong themes and scenes explored within (as outlined in the author's content warning at the start), as well as a fair few choice words, but nothing fans of Torchwood wouldn't be accustomed to. At no point, however, do they distract or feel out of place. In fact, nothing in Colour Theory feels like a happy accident; there is immense artistry in the broad strokes of Leigh's work, and it shines through every character, scene and page in the book.

Volume 1 ends on both a high note and a cliffhanger which very neatly leads us into Volume 2: Pattern Recognition. Whilst Colour Theory isn't necessarily a large book per se, you feel like you've been on a hell of an adventure with a lot to unpack. You would almost certainly benefit from a second reading, which is no bad thing, and just like a piece of art, it almost requires it so you can appreciate it from all of its wonderful angles.

Incredibly surprised and impressed with how much I enjoyed this book. Even if you don't hit one of those important letters or symbols in the LGBTQ+ acronym, you will find familiarity and relevance in Leigh's multi-layered work, as well as a much deeper love for the world and fellow humans around us.


+  Constelis Voss Vol.1: Colour Theory is Out Now!
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28 August 2021

Publisher: Silverback Books

Written By: A.T. Duguay

RRP: £11.61 / $16.17 (Paperback) | £1.71 / $2.33 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Beginning a new fantasy novel is always exciting; especially if the front cover is as striking as A.T. Duguay's 'The Guardian' - book 1 in his 'Soulstone' series. Somehow it ramps up the anticipation as you pick out elements from the cover and wonder how they will play out in the story.

Right from the off, our protagonist Gauthak, and his Night Jay (of which we discover, he has the ability to 'enter' to scan the path ahead), are hurled into the action, having just jumped off a waterfall to escape his giant pursuers. There is a sense of urgency and danger that is palpable to the reader, and you cannot help feeling it lurks around every corner. We then follow Gauthak on his journey to the city of New Alannah, where he soon lands himself in a spot of trouble...

As we delve further, we learn more about Gauthak's history and abilities, as well as discovering more about his own kind - the Northmen. For those who like magic in their fantasy stories, Duguay has you covered, but it's in a way more believable way. There's even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure too, and, again, it's done in such a realistic, meaningful way.

There's a great turning point in the plot, too - one you won't see coming, and it gives fresh focus to our character and the direction of the story. Kudos to the author for his skill here as everything in The Guardian seems to have such purpose and meaning. You don't feel like there's any padding and there is no character that feels like dead weight.

There is a mastery of description in Duguay's work; an almost poetic blend of rich detail through landscapes, colours, sights and sounds. This breathes life into his Medieval-esque world, which jumps off the pages of the book in the most vivid way.

The third-person style, together with the setting was almost reminiscent of the old school Fighting Fantasy books, and that sense of danger we mentioned earlier, further lends itself to this comparison. As such, there's a wonderful sense of familiarity, whilst obviously on a completely fresh and uncharted path.

As this is part of a trilogy, we hope it's not spoiling things by saying the story ends on a cliffhanger, of sorts. Whilst the reader feels content with the ending, there's a great springboard for the next book, and we know personally that we won't be content until we've read it :)

A final note we wanting to pick up on was in the book's acknowledgments at the end; in it, the author bravely explains his process in writing the book and the stress, depression and anxiety he suffered from. He cites his fears of change, risk, desires and for being himself. Having read the book, we genuinely believe he has triumphed in the very act of producing The Guardian. It is a testament to his hard work and persistence, in spite of those fears.


+  The Guardian is Out Now!
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23 August 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Terry Geo

RRP: £9.49 / $9.38 (Paperback) | £3.99 / $5.48 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

When we think of Science Fiction, our first thought is almost always that of a futuristic plot, but Refraction by British author, Terry Geo, is a very different beast, set in our present, but still with all the bells and whistles you could hope for in a book of this genre.

At its heart, this is a story about dreams and how they can be harnessed, but, in fact, this only scratches the surface of what Geo explores, and the ramifications for our characters. Speaking of characters, there’s a wonderfully diverse mix, with rich backstories given for each of them. We're also given different aspects of dreams which are attributed to these characters - a fascinating way to explore the lucidity and yet complex nature of our dream world.

Despite being a science fiction story, there's so much reality in Geo's writing; not just the familiar around us, but the way in which characters interact with one another. Right off in Chapter One we go from San Francisco to Bedford in just a couple of pages - the first time we've ever seen Bedford in a SciFi novel :) It's then onto Yorkshire with a very real situation that a lot of family-owned farmers find themselves in; giving up their dreams to follow the family business. Without wanting to digress, the author hails from Derbyshire and the few people we do know from that part of the UK are as down-to-earth and 'keep it real' as you can get. Despite the SciFi nature of the book, that very same 'keep it real' approach, grounds Refraction at even its most 'out there' moments - and it's to the credit of the story (and Derbyshire)!

It's also in these mundane moments that the genius of Geo's writing blooms; the juxtaposition of these ordinary moments against the exciting world of dreams creates a richer story - just as lucid as the worlds we explore when we're sleeping.

It's clear the author enjoyed the process of writing Refraction; there are so many nods and winks to  TV programmes and Movies from yesteryear - even computer games we played as kids. Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Super Mario, Donkey Kong - heck, even Flight Of The Navigator all get a namecheck here, and every mention peppered throughout gives you a warm, Mr Kipling-esque feeling as you reconnect with moments from yesteryear.

There's a big rug-pull moment, which we won't spoil, but it's testament to the journey the author takes us on in Refraction. The skill in its execution and the journey it takes to get there in the set piece, is utter brilliance. This is Geo's first novel, and we were blown away by this fact due to the level of literary mastery and detail in the world-building. We highly recommend this book and eagerly await the author’s next release.


+  Refraction is Out Now!
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21 August 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Michael A. Gordon

RRP: £7.95 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £0.99p / $1.37 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is the first instalment in Michael A. Gordon's thrilling time travel series. The story follows the titular Barnaby Brown - a 15-year-old boy from England - now living in New York (and very much missing his favourite brand of bread). As well as the bread, Barnaby is missing his old life; he lives with his Mother and mad scientist Uncle Finch, who spends most of his time in the basement.

It is in this basement that Barnaby discovers the doorway to a new, exciting life, and Gordon's way of introducing it is classically magical. Whether it's Lucy Pevensie discovering the wardrobe to Narnia or Kay Harker discovering the magic of the box of delights, you feel that same warmth and familiarity when Barnaby and his friends make their way down to his uncle's basement in Chapter Three.

Kudos to the author for his incredible detail behind the time travel elements; there's lots of science and common sense behind how the time machine actually works and the ramifications of altering history, and as the story progresses, you'd be forgiven for believing that time travel could actually be possible (who knows...perhaps it could be?!). 


There's such a wonderful balance of drama, humour and suspense; as for the humour in particular, there are several laugh out lout moments that spring to mind, namely the absolute corker of a line; "There’s no point turning up for the birth of Christ in jeans.".

With thrills, shocks, scares, rescues and a decidedly perfect villain to round things off, Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is the time-hopping adventure tonic we could all do with right now.

At the time of writing there are five books in the series, with Barnaby Brown And The Dark Star being the most recent. After this first instalment, we cannot wait to see where Barnaby's adventures take him next!


+  Barnaby Brown And The Time Machine is Out Now!
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20 August 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Giorgio Garofalo

RRP: £12.66 / $17.50 (Paperback) | £2.25 / $3.09 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

Giorgio Garofalo’s Korian: The Manian’s Spear - the first book in his Korian Epic Fantasy Adventure Series - is nothing short of a truly epic fantasy tale. 

An evil force approaches, casting darkness over the humans and ruids of Endura, thereby bringing an end to centuries of peace and stability. Although he remains entrapped in solitude, Adam Hades still wields considerable power. Through his envoy, Aaron, a hulking, deadly creature with burning eyes, and his army of stragoy (for want of a better word, zombies) and skines, Hades once again intends to take control of the planet Endura, and he seems intent on burning everything to the ground on his journey towards dominance.

In the face of such evil, humans and ruids are forced to retreat and hide into remote and isolated communities, their only real hope for salvation the legendary Azura, a saviour foretold to restore balance to the world. Otherwise, all will be lost, as Hades’ armies are sure to overwhelm the remaining pockets of humans and ruids eventually.

So, who might this Azura be? Three young boys named Doric, Will, and Korian are the most likely candidates. We follow these three boys on their decades-long, challenging, often tortuous journeys to adulthood. One of them, we hope, will pass through the mystical portal constructed by Crogan, a magical warrior or “manian”, to retrieve the legendary manian’s spear. 

Korian: The Mainan’s Spear is truly Homeric in its scope. Garofalo clearly worked hard to build a rich, convincing environment, full of detail, history, and complex, distinct characters. Readers are taken on a brief journey through time, from the days of Endura’s greatest leader, Zoren Ro (who defeated Adam Hades the first time), to “modern times” and even hints towards technology and civilised planets beyond “medieval” Endura. The story will keep you on your feet with unexpected plot twists, and some very dark, emotional moments sure to keep you invested in the complex story.

This is not just another standard, formulaic fantasy tale but an intense, intelligent, quite individual saga that sets the scene for a thrilling series. It’s a real page-turner, full of heartless villains, legendary battles, inventive flora and fauna, impressive scenery, and heroes that must undergo challenges so cruel and arduous they will make you wince in sympathy. Garofalo’s fluid, descriptive writing, entertaining from the first to last page, will transport you to a world you’ll swear you’ve walked on yourself.  

+  Korian: The Manian's Spear is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @GiorgioGarofa17 (Giorgio Garofalo) on Twitter.
+  Follow @NathanJonesBook (Nathan Jones) on Twitter

18 July 2021

Publisher: Inklings Publishing

Written By: Fern Brady

RRP: £12.04 / $14.95 (Paperback) | £3.92 / $5.43 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Nathan Jones

Fern Brady's United Vidden - the first book in her Thyreins’s Galactic Wall series - is a highly creative, compelling Science Fantasy / Space Opera story set in an imagined future of our universe, with a unique romance theme at its core.

The story revolves around Princess Verena, daughter of the widowed King Dekkyle, ruler of Dravidia—the northern half of the Vidden continent on planet Jorn, one of fifty-one major populated planets in Thyrien’s Galactic Wall (wall, we believe, meaning galaxy). The second major player is Prince Amiel, ruler of the southern half of the Vidden continent—Aulden. Amiel seems set on ruling over the whole continent and winning the heart of the fair and courageous Princess Verena. His motivations, however, are questionable.

Across the eastern Black Ocean, or western Green Ocean, the Gortive people of the Parthia continent seem to be preparing for war, so perhaps a United Vidden would be in favour its people, who usurped the aboriginal Gortive from “their” lands eons earlier.

More than anything else, United Vidden is a wonderful combination of royal court drama (reminiscent of Elizabethan times) and adventure. The changing allegiances of the aristocracy as the story progresses are captivating and led by the intriguing twists and turns of the masterful plot. The main characters are truly unforgettable and far from static, changing and developing as the gripping story unfolds. Their tempestuous journeys make this a real page-turner.

The machinations of the Wall’s magical religious sects (Rajin, Nijar, The Elamin Order, and more) overlay the plotting and romances of the book’s “ordinary” folk. And on a higher level than this, we get hints at The Wall’s interplanetary politics, between members of the Intergalactic Council such as planets Schol, Drulin, Fratern, and Fridgia. The various levels of power and influence give the read a true sense of being a space opera, along the lines of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

This book would make an amazing movie, it very much plays out like a blockbuster in the reader’s head. One that would appeal to both Sci-fi and Fantasy fans. Understandably, as this is the first book in a series, many of the plot lines remain open at the climax, but the ending of the novel is very satisfying regardless.

As this was released in June, 2020, we’re very much hoping the sequel will be released sometime soon.

+  United Vidden is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Fbrady03 (Fern Brady) on Twitter.
+  Follow @NathanJonesBook (Nathan Jones) on Twitter

14 July 2021

Publisher: Journey Fiction

Written By: Grimly Darkwood

RRP: £9.99 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £1.46 / $2.01 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Grimly Darkwood's 'The Shop On Peculiar Hill' (book 1 in his 'The Vale Of Strange' series), is a captivating children's fantasy that equally and wonderfully captures the imaginations of adults alike.

The story focuses on Peter - an orphan who has been sent to live with his Uncle Bob and Aunt Maggie, who are shop owners in (the awesomely named) Peculiarshire. Lurking within Peculiarshire is the mysterious Vale Of Strange - a foreboding place where tourists go missing and are never heard of again. A young boy goes missing and Peter, together with new-found friend, Amanda, begin a truly thrilling journey to discover what is really going on...

The author has peppered the mystery, intrigue and suspense perfectly throughout the book, and despite being aimed at kids, even as an adult I have to admit that it had me on the edge of my seat on several occasions. There are shocks and scares and Heeble-Greebs and...ahem...Bogeys (no, not those kind), and at every turn, there’s a genius new plot twist or device that propels the reader into the adventure further.

Whilst there is darkness, Darkwood gives us a much needed dose of humour throughout. Actual laugh-out-loud moments, that make you question whether the author had a previous life as a comedian! This balance of dark and light sews together a truly charming adventure that feels so much larger than the sum of its parts.

Everything is so vivid and visual - even in the darker places, and you cannot help but hope that this gets turned into a tv series or movie. Its practically begging for the big screen!

The reader can be forgiven for drawing parallels to Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events, as there is definitely a similar vibe here, also flavours of Harry Potter with the in-depth, in-world characters and ecology, but Darkwood very much cuts his own creepy path here. 

Book 2 ('Stranger Days On Peculiar Hill') is already out, and you better believe we're going to be along for the ride to find out what happens next in this brilliantly bonkers fantasy for all!

+  The Shop On Peculiar Hill is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @DarkwoodGrimly (Grimly Darkwood) on Twitter.

5 July 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Jim Hamilton

RRP: £8.09 / $9.95 (Paperback) | £1.64 / $2.27 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Back in April we had the pleasure of reviewing Jim Hamilton's first entry in his Chaos Trilogy; The Chaos Machine - an epic Science Fiction adventure that spans 7000 years. For book 2; Second Contact, Hamilton brings down the timeframe from 7000 years (in the first book) to a much smaller one here, but don't think that you get short-changed on any of the action... It's all here in spades, and we'd actually argue that this is an ever better story than the first.

"When aliens from different parts of the Universe encounter each other in 5342 AB, old friendships are renewed and new friendships begin as 19-year-old Cassiopeia upends the ancient Shoomaran Empire. And when she's done, nothing in the Universe will ever be the same again."

Set mainly in the year 5342AB, we follow our protagonist, Cassiopeia (and by god what a great, strong female lead she is) who is at the centre of a multi-faceted fight for Human / Shoomaran acceptance and harmony. This is moreso a political tale that its precursor (akin to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), where you can almost foresee the foreboding ramifications if our heroine isn't successful in her mission.

Ultimately, this is a story of hope - something that in a year of viruses and restrictions and lockdowns, we can all sympathise with. That hope resonates with the reader - not just because of the events in the story, but for the parallels of our own world.

Once again we have clear-cut characters who are believable and naturalistic in the way they're described as well as their inter-species dialogue. Sure there are aliens, but Hamilton paints them in such a real way that suspends your disbelief without question.

As with The Chaos Machine, the author's use of timelines is genius; whilst on the outside it may look complex with all the many strands, Hamilton's peripheral hand-holding (without patronising) really makes you feel like you are present in the action, and it somehow all somehow feels transpicuous.

This is an author who is clearly full of great ideas and knows exactly how to execute them. He also knows how to hold onto ideas and put them in his back pocket for use later. Little things from book 1 come back here for book 2, and its not hard to see how the events in Second Contact are going to play out in the third part of the trilogy (Mankind 2.0). Another palpable hit here from Hamilton!

+  Second Contact is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Chaosity8 (Jim Hamilton) on Twitter.

25 June 2021

Publisher: Self Published

Written By: Spaulding Taylor

RRP: £9.34 / $19.67 (Paperback) | £0.99p / $1.37 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

For a first SciFi novel, Spaulding Taylor has hit the ground running with 'Last Star Standing' - a truly well-thought-out, dystopian thriller with bags of adventure, suspense and well-placed humour.

The story focuses on our protagonist, Aiden Tenten, and is told in a first-person narrative, which makes you feel that much closer to the action. It's a post World War Three setting, where Earth is all but decimated by aliens, and we're in it for the long haul as Aiden tries to complete his mission against all odds.

There are tremendous action scenes which Spaulding brings to life in such a way that it feels like it has all the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, and due to the narrative style it's close, real, and perfectly epic. 

'Last Star Standing', whilst obviously a work of fiction, has a lot of echoes into our world, and you can almost forsee some of the events within coming to fruition. It somehow feels like a warning to the reader and you'll notice many parallels that make you stop and think.

With flavours of Star Wars, 1984 and a tiny dash of Starship Troopers thrown in for good measure, this is a Science Fiction yarn that will offer much needed escapism in a time where, let's face it, we all need to escape for a bit. 

Without spoiling things, there isn't a cliffhanger as such, and a lot does get wrapped up whilst also  offering a springboard for a sequel. Looking forward to seeing what's next from this talented author!

+  Last Star Standing is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!

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