Review of Rob Kroese’s The Brand of the Warlock: Counterfeit Sorcerer Book 1

brand of the warlockI’ve been a fan of Kroese for a few years now, mostly having read his Starship Grifters books. In those, his strong writing ability is able to carry the story while overcoming my usual hatred of spoofy comedy writing, which often plunges into the realms of twee.

The Counterfeit Sorcerer series is a bit more serious and less silly in tone, but Kroese’s writing style makes it a fun an entertaining read. While it lacks whimsy and eloquence of Jack Vance, it has a charming wry humor and sense of irony throughout that belies the tragedy the hero is endlessly confronted with.

Counterfeit Sorcerer is very much a serial, and The Brand of the Warlock is very much a first chapter; it’s very much akin to Nine Princes in Amber in this regard–the first book simply sets up further books, abruptly ending and on a somewhat grim note. It does not satisfactorily stand on its own in the way that the Starship Grifters books do, but the ride is an enjoyable one, and having pre-ordered the entire series, I plan on seeing them through to the end.

Do you dig fantasy adventure? Or stories like the ones Rob Kroese writes? We don’t have any Rob Kroese stories, but since a)we enjoy Rob Kroese stories and b)we publish stories we enjoy, you might enjoy the stories in our magazine if you enjoy Rob Kroese! Our Fall issue is out now!

Wild Stars Available on Amazon [If You’ve Read Your IGG/KS Copy, Leave Us a Review!]

By now, just about everyone should have received their copies of Wild Stars!

Because we were able to fulfill both crowdfunds a month earlier than we’d planned, we were able to move up the world-wide release date.

The Wild Stars pages on Amazon are now live, so if you enjoyed Wild Stars and would like to continue to support Michael Tierney and Cirsova Publishing, you can do so by leaving reviews!

Book of Circles
Force Majeure
Time Warmageddon
Wild Star Rising
Omnibus

These help raise book, writer, and publisher profiles on Amazon and are a quick and easy way to help us out that doesn’t cost anything but the couple minutes it takes to leave one.

Thank you all again for supporting this exciting project, and we hope to be able to bring you much more exciting science fiction, fantasy, and adventure in 2020 and beyond!

Don’t forget, submissions open a week from today!

New Reviews:Jon Mollison and John DeNardo

We have a couple new reviews go live recently!

The first is from John DeNardo in his round-up of scifi short fiction on Kirkus:

Cirsova bills itself as a “magazine of thrilling adventure and daring suspense,” a sentiment that is embodied in its lead story, “Halcyon” by Caroline Furlong. The backdrop of the story is an interstellar war between humans and the alien race known as the Gorgons, ape-like creatures that appear to be ruled by a scientific ruling class. The setting is the planet Halcyon, where a group of humans have been laboring in the mud pits of an open-air prison. The point-of-view characters are the humans Marin and Siobhan, respectively a soldier and a scientist, who make a daring escape in the opening scene. True to the magazine’s promise, the story whisks along from one adventure to the next as the heroes encounter strange beasts and unlikely allies in a fun, serviceable story reminiscent of the science fantasy planetary adventures of yesteryear.

We’ll take “fun” and “serviceable”!

Next is from Jon Mollison, who received an ARC of Wild Star Rising:

With “Wild Star Rising”, the reader gets drawn into the action one small step at a time.  The seamless merger of sci-fi and fantasy results in an epic conflict that kicks off around the time of the final destruction of Atlantis.  The points where spacefaring nations interact with the denizens confined to the bottom of earth’s gravity-well make sense in a way that most efforts to marry the two genres don’t.  The writing crackles, and the adventure leaps from ship to prison to outer space to back in time with a relentless pace that’s a joy to follow along.  New characters step on scene fully formed, and fully described for newcomers to the series, and Tierney doesn’t shy away from jerking the rug out from the reader’s expectations in a way that is both fun and inspiring.

There’s more, but you should read the review for yourself.

One thing that Jon notes is that Wild Star Rising is where Wild Stars really finally clicked for him–it’s interesting he brings that up, because what I told Michael after first reading his manuscript was that “this one makes the older books better”. Wild Stars is a pretty dense universe, and Book of Circles has a LOT going on for a comic. The novels are solid, but the media res and sequel aspects can be a bit tricky. But I really think that someone coming into Wild Stars cold has a good entry point with Wild Star Rising. Better if you have all of the books, because you can read the first half of Wild Star Rising, go back and read the first three books that take place in between, then finish Wild Star Rising.

You’ll be pretty blown away by it all.

The 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars will be shipping out to backers around the end of September to early October and will be available on Amazon in late October.

Review of Flying Sparks Vol 1.

Most folks who know us know that Jon Del Arroz & I are interweb buddies. But the dirty secret I have is that I really hadn’t gotten around to reading any of his books yet!

As an editor, I’m frequently swamped, and as a reviewer of old stories with a regular review column, most of my reading energies went towards those…

Well, I ended up backing the first Flying Sparks crowdfund to support Jon, but I only backed for the digital copy. I’m terrible about reading digital stuff, and just never got around to it [like the upward of a dozen Alt-Hero comics I may or may never get to].

This time, I backed for physical copies of both volume 1 and volume 2, and I’m glad I did.

flying sparks

Honestly, part of my procrastination was that Jon Malin’s cover for volume one was pretty uninspiring–it said nothing about the comic and looked like generic cape-stuff. [I prefer covers more evocative of the action within, and almost never go for character portrait covers if I can help it].

But Jethro Morales’ interior art and Shannon Ho’s colors are fantastic. Plus, Jon’s story is really good!  It’s well-paced and exciting. The story is something like a mix of My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but he’s able to pull it off without the campy cheese that a story like that lends itself to.

I’ll be reading volume 2 soon, and I’ve got to say, Flying Sparks is right up there now with The Terrifics in terms of new titles I’m excited about and looking forward to reading more of.

Short Reviews – Action on Azura by Robertson Osborne

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Action on Azura by Robertson Osborne was featured in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Action On Azura Pic

Yes, ‘this fair and gentle world’ populated by giant armor-hided predators, spear throwing weasel-monkey-dog-rat things, bombardier birds, and folks with tentacles growing out of their heads…

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Short Reviews – The Wheel Is Death by Roger Dee

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

 

Ummm... Spoiler Alert!?

Ummm… Spoiler Alert!?

The Wheel Is Death by Roger Dee appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

More like “The Twist is Obvious”.

This is the only thing I’ve read in Planet Stories that I would say was terrible.  The Wheel Is Death is an incredibly short story (barely over two pages) that spends the bulk of its words pontificating on the evils of technology that destroyed man in the previous age.

The elder explains to a guy why his friend had to be killed—he invented the wheelbarrow.

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Short Reviews – Signal Red by Henry Guth

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Can you believe the guy on the right is the hero?

Can you believe the guy on the right is the hero?

Signal Red by Henry Guth appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Signal Red is not a bad story; it’s just, much like the other stories I’ve read in this issue, not what I’d gotten used to from Planet Stories from just a few years earlier.

Humanity has outposts and travel throughout the Solar system, from bases on Mercury to mines on Pluto, however Uranus is at war with the inner planets and their fleets raid and skirmish the vessels travelling between those worlds.  Shano, a dying man whose lungs have been gummed up with crud from his days in the vanium mines of Pluto, makes it onto the last flight out of Mercury bound for Earth just before the general warning of a possible impending attack from Uranian raiders. Those who go out into space during a Signal Red do so at their own risk, but Shano doesn’t care; he just wants to make it back to Earth to see his homeworld one last time before he dies.

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