Book Review: Child of the Empire – Michaelbrent Collings

The Sword Chronicles: Child of the EmpireThe Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire by Michaelbrent Collings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a solid 4-4.5 read, a book which is full of adventure, mystery, family and loss.

The over arcing story here is a coming of age of a woman who rise from the gladiatorial pits of her society to find her place in the Empire. She is one of the Gifted, a woman who gains not one, but two families, and continually finds that her world isn’t what she expects it to be.

This is a very powerful story as we follow this very broken girl who wants more than anything to have a place where she belongs. Beyond that she also wants to be someone who is doing what is right and what is right is often not an easy thing to see or know. I wanted Sword to succeed and found it heartbreaking each time that her world shifted and she recreated herself again. I was satisfied by where she ended up, even though the journey is painful and sometimes pretty brutal. There were a few aspects as far as the bigger plot which I’m still not fully certain of, and it’s left a bit open ended as it’s obviously the first in a series.

When I started reading I found the writing style a bit choppy, but that disappeared very quickly in the flow of the narrative which keeps up at a break neck speed all the way along. Very rarely are you given much breathing space and when you are…look out cause it’s usually a quick gasp before things get crazy all over again. I love love the connections between people through the book. There’s some romance, but even more important are the ties of siblings and parents and protectors. The powers are interesting and unique and the technology an odd conglomeration of the modern and the very Medieval, which was mostly fine though there were moments it threw me out of the story.

All in all I’m much looking forward to the next one. There are still a lot of questions left to be answered and ground left to be covered. I want to know what lies beneath the clouds, even as I’m afraid to know the answer…and that’s a good thing.

Content warning: This is prolly a 16+ at least. The language is fairly minor. There is some kissing, mention of prostitution and assault, and abundant violence. Folks die in some pretty awful ways and the story doesn’t shy away from that brutality. It’s not down to each drip of blood and brains or such, but it is present.

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Book Review: Got Luck by Michael Darling

Got LuckGot Luck by Michael Darling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s taken some doing to pull my thoughts together on this book because those thoughts are very polarized. There are some things I really loved, and some complete book throwing offenses (Even if I was reading on a tablet!). So I’ll try to cover some of the highlights and lowlights and leave it to you to decide if you want to give Luck a try.

The highlights:
Miami! It’s nice to see a less common setting for a Urban Fantasy, and fun to see Got driving around with the top down and enjoying a different environment. I can’t complain about his choice of car either. It’s no Batmobile, but it’s much more fun and apparently home to all the 80s music.

A unique Fae mythos and worldbuilding. I really liked the focus on the three realms and the way they interconnect. While I still don’t understand a lot of the rules of the fae they were internally consistent enough that I bought into the world and would be interested in learning more. The magic system made sense though I did have a lot of questions about how far it went and the difference between Eternal magic and Halfling magics which I feel weren’t ever answered. I’m not listing that as a bad because it certainly left a lot of space for future books in the world to explore some of that more thoroughly.

Keeper. While he was maybe a little too convenient a source for answers I loved Keeper as a character. People who produce root beer floats from thin air are awesome.

Internal over all plot consistency. All the pieces fit together and made sense. I wasn’t really shocked by who the bad guys were and where folks fell when the battle lines were drawn, but it made sense within the world of the story and the set up information which was given.

The lowlights:
I very nearly quit reading this book after the first chapter. The self appreciative humor and pop culture references are SO heavy handed and abundant that it’s annoying. It’s not cute, it’s not appealing, and even though it gets better as the book goes that first chapter sets a tone that says Got is a jerk and more of a caricature of the best of the 1930-40s noir and current Urban Fantasy heroes than something unique and clever in his own right.

Which carries into the next point. That problem with character exists through the whole book and across many characters. Got complains all the time about how much lying he has to do, especially to his best friend but at no point does he even consider leveling with the man. Likewise when Got receives a big revelation about his whole life he just kinda nods and shrugs it off. He rarely feels real to me and because of that I have problems buying into him as a character even though I like his place as a plot point and the POTENTIAL of him as a character. Erin the girlfriend is worse. How I wanted to like her. She has a cool job, and for a change she’s the woman who is already in the know about the supernatural and gets to train him! How awesome could that be? Except… Most of the focus on her is tied into how beautiful she is. He says she’s smart but she doesn’t really do that much to prove it. Mostly she shows up in tight dresses and heels and cool make up because she’s a product of her environment and expectations. Then she’s continually put in situations where events and others manipulate her/kidnap her/(view spoiler), and she does nothing except to shrug and go, Well the Fae world is still really backwards when it comes to equality. And even when Got manipulates her she shrugs it off with tears and snuggles. For heaven sakes woman… And don’t get me started on her big secret twist, melodrama for the sake of melodrama with an epilogue of melodrama on top. Most of the other characters, including Nat though it pains me to say so, are very two dimensional. They are given defining characteristics, but they are not characters and they feel tacked on for stuff that Got mostly does himself anyway.

Must Got have ALL the powers? Really?

And lastly… I can see the author wanting Got to use his cool powers and not something as mundane as a gun. Okay, that’s fine. However, the ways used to keep the gun out of play in the hands of an ex military, ex police officer private eye make him look like an idiot. He is not Steph Plum who is afraid of her gun and hides it in the freezer. He has no excuse to consistently have put his firearm someplace stupid. If you have a permit, you’re carrying and you’re comfortable with a weapon you don’t treat it like an after thought.

So all in all it was an okay debut and will appeal to fans of authors like Kevin Herne and Anton Strout as there are a lot of similar beats as far as the humor and pop culture style. There’s some great raw talent and potential here and I’ll be keeping an eye on the author, but I need to see a lot of development if I’m gonna stick with Luck.

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