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Book Reviews:Sky of Swords+Blood King+Witch's Cradle +Every Sigh, The End+Supernatural Companion 1

Sky of Swords: A Tale of The King's Blades by Dave Duncan

Princess Malinda was the unloved, exiled daughter of one of King Ambrose IV's discarded wives. Thanks to his desperation for a heir, any heir, she is recalled to court. There she is plunged into a viper's nest of plots and grasping ambition.

After the birth of a son to his newest wife, Ambrose plans to marry Malinda off. But the wedding day ends with the groom abandoning his wife and assassinating the King. Now Malinda is alone in a court full of schemes and betrayals. Her baby brother is now the heir. But Malinda's illegitimate half-brother and ambitious cousin both have their eyes on the crown.

The only people Malinda can trust are her Blades in the Royal Guard. As the family tears itself and the country apart as they battle for the crown, Malinda finds herself caught up in a deadly civil war that threatens to destroy her, her country and the Loyal and Ancient Order of Blades itself.

A page turning adventure with an audacious ending. 'Sky of Swords' is an engrossing tale of treason, vengeance, love and magic. Highly recommended.

~
The Blood King: Book Two of the Chronicles Of The Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin


The excellent sequel to the equally excellent 'The Summoner'.

Exiled Prince Martris Drayke is gathering his army and mastering his magic to defeat his evil usurping brother Jared. Martris has the support of many Kingdoms as Jared's murder of his family and subsequent looting, raping, murdering spree across his country is making him many enemies. But can Martris defeat not only his power crazed brother but the evil mage Arontala as well? And in defeating them can he keep from being corrupted by the massive power he commands?

An excellent follow-up to 'The Summoner'. Martris' friends start training refugees into an army, hiring mercenaries and planning a strike on Jared's castle. Meanwhile the quite insane Jared has made his people hate and fear him and reduced his country to starvation and ruin in under a year.

There is zero subtlety here: Martris is all good, he has no flaws and everybody loves him (well except Jared) and Jared is Evil. Evil to the bone with zero redeeming qualities plus a severe case of 'I Had No Childhood' and 'Mommy Issues' excuses for his vile actions.

This is a fantastic action packed tale with action, vivid characters, magic and an interesting belief system. Martin's creation of the varied worship of the 8 faced Goddess with her 4 light and 4 dark aspects is well done and interesting to read about. The ominous ancient evil trope of The Obsidian King is revealed to be somewhat different than what was originally suspected. The outcome of the Martris/Jared showdown is never in any doubt whatsoever but getting there is such wonderful fun.

The third book in the series 'Dark Haven' seems like it will focus on minor characters from the first two novels. Some interesting plots are set up for 'Dark Haven' in this tome. Excellent. Highest possible recommendation.

~
The Witch's Cradle by Gillian White


From the author of 'The Beggar Bride', 'Mothertime', 'The Crow Biddy' and 'The Plague Stone' comes this tale of a young couple's descent into hell via trial by media.

Barry and Cheryl are a desperately poor couple. They live in a filthy tower block with their two small children with no money, no jobs, no prospects and no hope. Then Cheryl sees an ad for subjects wanted for a documentary series that will showcase the lives of the poor. Soon she and Barry are TV stars, famous across the land as a hard done by family.

Cheryl so desperate to be loved reveals in her fame. And then it all goes wrong, Cheryl becomes pregnant again and opinion shifts, painting her as yet another lazy, useless scrounger. As the media and public opinion turns on them, Cheryl and Barry's children vanish.

That is only the start of Cheryl's hell as she becomes the most hated, reviled and hunted woman in the country. How desperate for love and attention is Cheryl? Is she really the evil monster people see her as?

A good, fast-paced tale with a twist in the tail. 'The Witch's Cradle' was published in 2000 and seems to creepily prophesise various reality show misadventures. Recommended.

~
Every Sigh, The End (A Novel About Zombies) by Jason S. Hornsby


It's New Year's Eve 1999 and apathetic nobody/loser Ross is brooding about his life. He is sleeping with his girlfriend's best friend, his girlfriend is sleeping with his best friend, he goes to parties with kids years younger than him, his younger sister outshines him at everything, his father holds him in utter contempt and people are following him and filming his every move.

Soon events get stranger. His mother shows him home videos that seem to have been filmed by someone spying on the family, his father seems to be in on it and friends act suspiciously. Things change at a New Year's Eve party when the living dead attack as camera crews film it all.

Ross is plunged into a nightmare of death and terror as time loses all meaning and the world seems to be ending. An original and mindwarping take on the zombie genre. It's a good book but is totally bizarre. If you like the zombie genre you should enjoy this tale of a zombie apocalypse, spies, reality tv, conspiracies and armageddon.

Recommended.

~
Supernatural The Official Companion: Season 1 by Nicholas Knight


The official guide to the first season of the pretty brothers hunting monsters show. It's got background info, details on how the show came to be and pretty pictures. The creator reveals how the show is centred around urban legends, something that was true for season 1 but forgotten by season 4.

The brotherly bonding/issues isn't even mentioned by the show creator. It seems most of it comes from the actors. For fans of 'Supernatural' this is a good read to remind us of things before the show dropped the urban legends, brought in Bela and Ruby and then did the unmentionable thing. Good
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