The Paper Magician Series – Charlie N. Holmberg (Review)

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Ceony Twill wants to be a smelter – a magician bonded to metal. She wants to enchant bullets and send railway lines across the country. She doesn’t want to be a paper magician, sending letters and making decorations for children’s parties.

But she doesn’t get the chance to pick her material. Faced with the option of no magic or paper magic, Ceony reluctantly begins her studies with the eccentric Emery Thane. Soon, she starts to find that both her instructor and paper magic are far more interesting than she first assumed. Continue reading “The Paper Magician Series – Charlie N. Holmberg (Review)”

Shades of Magic – V. E. Schwab (Review)

ADSOMI initially intended to review just the first book of this series – A Darker Shade of Magic – but I got caught up in the story and read the rest of the trilogy without a pause. that makes it difficult to fairly review one book, so this review is going to focus on the series as a whole.

There is more than one London. A city of the same name occupies the same place in several different worlds, and those who have the right magic can pass between them. There’s a grey, Georgian London with no magic, and a red London where magic is everywhere. There’s a white London where magic is hoarded and hunted, and a black London where no one goes any more. Continue reading “Shades of Magic – V. E. Schwab (Review)”

Three Reasons to Read Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Shadows of the Apt”

Adrian Tchaikovsky is an underrated author. He’s not unsuccessful – his books appear in mainstream stores, and he gets favourable reviews. Right now, he’s in the running for a Clarke Award. But he doesn’t get the same recognition as some fantasy/sci-fi authors; he’s not often mentioned in the same breath as Rothfuss or Martin or Sanderson. And that’s a shame, because I think he’s at least as good as them. Continue reading “Three Reasons to Read Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Shadows of the Apt””

Riding the Mainspring – Andrew Knighton (Review)

Riding the MainspringRiding the Mainspring is a collection of short stories from Andrew Knighton. I’ve read and reviewed a collection from him before, and really liked it.

Riding the Mainspring is very similar to the other collection – very short stories generally, neatly structured, a couple of links between some of the stories but nothing massive. I’m not going to rehash all of the same ground, but instead focus on the differences between the two.

The most obvious difference is that this set of stories are all steampunk, not fantasy. To avoid becoming repetitive though, they aren’t all the same steampunk.

All too often, steampunk means “Victorian London with cogwheels” and that can get quite dull. I’ve nothing against such localised Victoriana (I recommend Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s Barnaby Grimes series if that’s what you want), but an entire genre pinned to a single point in space and time is rather limited.

These stories are varied – the setting ranges from the Wild West to a volcano-ridden Europe to Italian sewers. It’s all steampunk, but it’s varied and original within the genre.

The stories aren’t quite as polished as the ones in By Sword, Stave, and Stylus – there are a couple that could have done with a little more elaboration, a bit more explanation of the underlying concepts and resolution. Still though, Knighton’s strength is his structure, so some stories not wrapping up as well as his best isn’t particularly damning – they’re a little weaker, but not bad at all.

My favourite stories were the two dealing with the Epiphany Club, a group of investigators of the outlandish and unusual. There’s quite a fast-paced pulpy feel to them, with automatons and magic elixirs. I’d read a novel set in that world, but there isn’t one. The author appears to have a couple of collections that deal just with the club though, so I will look them up.

This is going to be a very short post, because it’s a very short book and I seem to be writing more compact reviews as time goes on. Plus, having reviewed a collection of his short stories before on here, and the quality remaining roughly the same, there’s not much to say that isn’t just repeating myself.

In summation then, I find that I really like this author. He only writes short stories at the moment, but they’re good short stories, with neat plotting, a nice turn of phrase, and very few duds. This collection is a bit shorter and less polished than his fantasy one, but still well worth reading.

Buy it here.

Steambirds – The Tragedy of Sequels

Amidst the dross of online games, you occasionally find a gem. A game that isn’t half-finished, or shallow, or just a vehicle for ads. A game that is actually playable, one that presents you with interesting problems and doesn’t just allow you to click away your time. So many online games are half-finished amateurish messes, or color-shifted rehashes of concepts that were tired decades ago. I find it’s rare to come across a game that is worth the time.

Steambirds is such a game – a shining needle in a dirty haystack. Set in an alternate history version of the world wars, in which steam-powered aircraft battle for control of the skies, the game puts you in command of a small squadron, playing through various dogfights against the encroaching menace of the enemy airforces. Continue reading “Steambirds – The Tragedy of Sequels”

Sunless Sea (Review)

I should love Sunless Sea. 

It’s a game with so many great ideas, so many wonderful concepts working together. Almost everything that Sunless Sea is trying to do is something that I want games to do well.

I should love Sunless Sea, but somehow I find myself underwhelmed.

Continue reading “Sunless Sea (Review)”