Book Review – The Skybound Sea, 3rd book of the Aeons’ Gate Trilogy by @SamSykesSwears

In writing The Skybound Sea, Sam Sykes has skillfully closed out his carnage strewn adventure while leaving himself the option to write more in his dripping wet universe. This tome is filled with Lovecraftian stylized horrors that sulk about the deepest places urging to drown the world in mucus and blood, all for another taste of their mother’s milk. If you are in anyway squeamish of bodily fluids, the Skybound Sea will desensitize you forever. This is one wet work.

Sykes writes like a T-Rex, howling and ripping fetid entrails loose with each keystroke he mashes. In his world, magic drains its wielders of their very life force, the gods seemingly don’t give a damn for their followers, and invaders from another world are hell-bent on releasing the mother of demons all in a quest to kill her. Our mighty heroes constantly dream of each others’ demises in between epic battles where their foes are eviscerated, decapitated, and emboweled spewing forth every biological liquid known to originate in man or beast. Oh, and there are jellyfish.  You know what they say to do if one stings you, right?

The Skybound Sea is the culmination of an adventure that our heroes set off upon two books ago. Along the way they have battled countless humanoids, beasts, and demons of all shapes, sizes, and of course colors. From the green shicts to the purple netherlings, Lenk and company have perspired and persevered only to become stranded on the isle of Teji. Our adventure continues as they search for the hidden island of Jaga to stop the Abysmyth hordes from reuniting with their mother. What do they get for all their trouble? Do they all perish in a world flooded by the Skybound Sea, or do they accomplish the goals they set out toward in book 1: to retrieve the Tome of the Undergates thus keeping the kraken queen sealed away in hell? And what is their reward for success or failure? Well, that would be a spoiler and I don’t write those.

Sykes’ writing style is unique. Lenk’s internal dialog is the definition of madness while the battle cries and dying screams of our heroes’ foes reverberate in glory and pain. From the truly amazing first chapter, to the glorious final battle that spans countless pages, the action and wittiness that is Syke’s hallmark never lets up. It all works out to a captivating, fast paced read.

I am pleased to give this book five stars and I look forward to reading future works by Mr. Sykes. I also wanted to thank him for the advanced review copy he graciously provided me. I wish I had time to get this review out before the US release, but life sometimes has a way of messing up our plans. At least I beat the UK hardcover release which I pre-ordered months ago to place next to my “Tome” and “Black Halo” copies.

You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/Skybound-Aeons-Gate-Book-Three/dp/1616146761/

Book Review – Prophecy, The Children of the White Lions Vol. 2 by @AuthorRTkaelin

Okay, I am biased but I will write as much of an unbiased review that I can. In the sense of disclosure, I have been one of Ryan’s part time/freelance editors for about a year now. I loved Progeny and when I had the opportunity to help tidy up Prophecy I felt honored and excited.  I will do my best to write a spoiler free review so you need not fear reading on!

War has overtaken the Oaken duchies and it falls to our heroes to prepare defenses against the advancing horde of Sudashians. Shaped by battles and diplomacy Nik, Jak and Kenders aren’t mere children anymore. Nik has grown into his powers and Kenders has been honing her own control over magic by apprenticing under one of Terrene’s most powerful mages. Jak has been making great strides of his own while training with the Shadow Manes soldiers. In this newest book, they all face trials of the mind, heart, and arms as the tale weaves about multiple plots.

Prophecy is more complex than Progeny was in so many ways. The stage has shifted from a single duchy to all of them and more. Our heroes we fell in love with in Progeny are all back with a couple new ones thrown in for good measure. Within Prophecy, a clever reader is made more aware of what motivates the “evil” gods of the Cabal and their plans to return. We also become cognizant of the ulterior motives of the “good” and neutral gods and begin to question everyone’s goals. There are even a few new races we meet throughout the adventures within Prophecy’s pages. And for Kaelin’s biggest fans, Prophecy is loaded with references to the short stories Ryan has written and given away for free on his website.

Prophecy was a lot of fun to read and continues the epic tale set forth by Progeny. One of the things I loved about both Progeny and Prophecy was that none of the characters were predefined by the sides they belong to or their races – there were even parts in Prophecy where I came to sympathize with the ultimate bad guy. For you romantics, you will watch as a couple relationships blossom within Prophecy and a couple others come to an end. The slow buildup approach Ryan takes leaves the tale believable and the amount of backstory is enough to give any epic fantasy reader the sense that his (or her) money was well spent. But mostly it is Ryan’s characters that make both Progeny and Prophecy such great books.

For those who haven’t read Progeny, of all the fantasy series I’ve read (more than a few) Progeny and Prophecy remind me most of the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini. They are not the same tales, but the elegances found in those books are found in these ones too. The cleanliness of the worlds and the use of typical fantasy tropes in original ways make both worlds comfortable and fresh to any reader, new or old.

I am pleased to give this book five stars and I look forward to reading the next novel in this epic fantasy series. Ryan is destined for greatness, so do yourself a favor and pick up both Progeny and Prophecy now so you can look back one day and say “I knew him when …”.

You can buy it here (Available September 25, 2012): http://www.amazon.com/Prophecy-Children-White-Lions-Volume/dp/0615678858/