The Merry Executioner Returns by Alyx J. Shaw

12405823Title: The Merry Executioner Returns
Series: A Strange Place in Time III
Author: Alyx J. Shaw
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: Novel (294 pages)
ISBN: 9781603706988
Publisher: Prizm Press, Torquere Press (March 12th, 2014)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts
Reviewer: Thommie
Blurb: With the last member of the Court returned home, John Arrowsmith and his group of friends prepare to defend their land from ancient adversaries bent on their destruction. With enemies advancing on all sides and attacks coming from within their own home, it’s difficult to determine where to strike.
With friends succumbing to assassins and attacks, John Arrowsmith must use his abilities to their utmost to prevent tragedy befalling his adopted homeland. But tragedy comes in many forms, and his long-time lover has been gone a very long time… Will the band of friends save the day? Find out in this third installment of the Strange Places in Time series!
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Review: The third and final part of this saga picks up exactly where it left on the second book. Our nine incredible members of the Court have finally some clue as to who is behind the incidents happening in Dargoth and why. And just like the previous two books, this one as well starts with a power kick of action, attacks on all fronts, hideous and crippling losses, even death among the fellowship. The pace is fast and furious alternating between fights, unexpected attacks, and even more unexpected relationships forming between our guys.

Dubious characters that were somewhat in between good and evil take form now and even more plots are discovered as the story goes. Frankly, this was one hell of a ride when it came to conspiracy and having the enemy no two steps ahead but a whole damned mile. If you have ever played a high fantasy MMORPG and taken part in raids with big bossed that needed a huge amount of planning strategy in how to freaking down them; if you’ve ever gone into wipefest after wipefest trying to down the same boss for hours then you definitely appreciate this entire sage, and even more so this final book. For me it felt the same way as when I was raiding Icecrown in World of Warcraft, and this final scene quite literally reminded me of the damned Lich King who in the end, even after you killed him, he still continued to go on.

That means I simply loved it. I love everything about his story. I loved how things panned out with Misty and Blue, and yes, I cried for Misty. I loved Arrowsmith and Infamous’ story even as it literally ripped my heart apart, stomped all over it only to have it put back yet again a bit raw, a bit tender, but definitely mellow and sweet in the end. I died with joy, laughter and pain for my beloved Ice Prince Monshika. I cannot begin to tell you how freaking brilliant that relationship was and how much an emotional rollercoaster it turned out to be. I still wonder at what became of Sly and was finally satisfied with his role and the fact that we got to finally see in his soul.

Gosh, there are so many thing to say, this book was so intense and with a nonstop action pace, but I fear I cannot spoil it for you. For me it was fantastic, it reminded me why I loved playing games so much and if you’re a lover of high fantasy, if you are and/or were at some point a gamer, I feel you will adore this trilogy just like I did. Definitely recommended!

The White Palace Awakens by Alyx Shaw

Alxy J Shaw The White Palace Awakens1Title: The White Palace Awakens

Series: A Strange Place in Time, #2

Author: Alyx Shaw

Genre: High Fantasy/Edgy Young Adult

Length: Novella (131 Pages)

ISBN: 978-1-61040-635-2

Publisher: Torquere Press (2nd edition, January 2014)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3~3.5Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb:The White Palace has risen, and now John Arrowsmith, his thief lover Infamous, and the rest of the gang from A Strange Place in Time must defeat a growing conspiracy and an ancient adversary. As John learns to use his own powers as Court Seer, he and the Court learn of a plot that their old enemy, SkullDigger, is concocting to finally defeat them.

With allies among John’s own Earth-bound family, and many others along the way, SkullDigger mounts attack after attack, which test John and his friends to the limit of their abilities. Will John and his friends, who include a pet duck, be able to fend off the forces that conspire against them?

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Review: This book is the second part of a Trilogy that ought to be read in order.

The second book in the A Strange Place in Time series is, if not as good as the first, certainly a captivating one as well. It picks up right where the first stopped and manages to take you once again into the Tolkein-like world of Dargoth and the adventures Arrowsmith and his friends get caught up to.

Now in this installment I’m afraid I got a minor dissatisfaction right from the start. There is a distinctive change on Arrowsmith’s personality and mannerisms from book one. As we read their Arrowsmith, despite being brought up by white trash, he still had some innate elegance in him, a gentleness that couldn’t be explained, and his manners were not as crude as in this installment. For a while there, I was thinking that our character suffered a huge change from the moment he Recalled and that simply didn’t make any sense. I still think this is one big fault in the writing of this second installment.

However, the story made up for it big time. The White Palace has finally risen and now every member of the Court has to get there and try to figure out why. The enemy is real yet still a mystery with too many things happening to divert eyes from the main danger. Outward war is not what our characters deal with, rather schemes made in the dark, past enemies forming alliances to strike in different directions, and people long thought dead come forth from the shadows to shatter the false safety.

We also have a chance to meet The Nine members of the Court better. We get to see their pasts, how they came to be, and – personally – I was surprised by many of them. Misty was perhaps the biggest surprise of them all. I had not figured what exactly was his position in Court, so when I found out it safe to say I was left with my jaw hanging there for a while. His story from start to finish was exciting, his love was awe-inspiring, and yet again, I wish for more length in this book in order to have a proper development and give us the chance to process the multitude of information.

Monshika finally made sense and I must say he managed to become dear and charming in his way. Arrowsmith finally took the role I was expecting him to, but I fear the Seer (again) was not given as much time. Now, the character that I felt was the most fascinating of them all was Lord Sly. How very intriguing and how very unexploited he was. Seriously, I didn’t mind him being just another character in the first book, but here his talents were completely wasted. The final member and the most mystical one to join the party was Blue the Bard. We were wondering about him throughout the first and this second installment and we only got to meet him and his story right at the end. I pointed out that this author has a thing with cliffhangers (which I absolutely detest) and yes, he did it again along with a huge load of new intel. I literally screamed “I hate this book” when it abruptly ended, if it were a printed copy you can very well imagine me throwing it across the room and barely holding myself from tearing it apart. Yes, I’m prone to drama when I’m left hanging.

Overall, though, the book met my expectations. It had adventure and love, blood and death as well and I’m always a happy camper when schemes and plots manage to cause chaos. The anticipation for the third one on my part is quite great, so despite my loathing the wait, I feel the author managed to literally entrap me in this trilogy. It was addictive, it was highly enjoyable, and it’s definitely recommended for those who love High Fantasy.


The Recalling of John Arrowsmith by Alyx J. Shaw

71Hb8cN-AHLTitle: The Recalling of John Arrowsmith

Series: A Strange Place in Time #1

Author: Alyx J. Shaw

Genre: High Fantasy

Length: Novel (221 pages)

ISBN: 978-1-61040-598-0

Publisher: Prizm Books, Torquere Press (October 13th, 2013)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5~4Hearts

Reviewer: Thommie

Blurb:Raised in a motorcycle gang, John Arrowsmith has a bad case of wanderlust. He’s not sure what drives him, but he knows he has to go, and he has the perfect machine to ride on; the big custom bike he calls Harley. When he and Harley get run off the road and wake up someplace completely unfamiliar, Arrowsmith knows something has gone pretty darned wrong.

With a cast of characters that include thieves, Moonhounds, and ogres, John has to find his way through this new world, trying to understand why he’s been transported there, and why he’s falling for a guy named Infamous. What Arrowsmith finds out surprises him, and might just kill him. Can he survive to find his way home?

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Review: Oh my freaking God, I can’t believe the cliffhanger. Just kill me now! Or rather don’t, I have #2 waiting for me so I won’t suffer long, though I fear what the end of that book is going to bring.

But back at this one, well what an enticing book this was. The first thought that came into my mind was “I’m reading a really weird book. Nice weird. Tolkien weird. It’s fascinating!” and then again further into the story I was reminded of World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King. It was surreal somehow that this book mixed up an assortment of favourites for me. The World it was set upon, the magical creatures and the people who inhabited this world, they were all alluring slowly drawing me in and managing to capture my interest and hold onto it.

I admit at first the book was hard to follow. The information required to understand this world was a lot to digest and every turn you took something new popped up. It was really hard to keep up with at the beginning. Then there were the twists it took, and as things constantly moved with deeper meanings, hidden subtexts, and the eerie feeling that something is about to happen, yet you had to wait and wait and wait some more made the entire read a bit frustrating and challenging your patience.

I also admit that things only come into perspective after half the book was read and became clear as crystal when the end was reached. That however was another exercise at patience on itself. There were characters left to know and understand, there were dark evils and enemies hidden in the shadows that were not revealed, yet you know for a certainty that they are their bidding their time. There was the mother cliff hanger that makes your head spin and I don’t know how I would have felt if I didn’t already have book #2 to pick it right up.

And there was the romance part that was somehow crippled. We have the main character Arrowsmith and he’s human. Through a series of weird events, he ends up into a strange place that looked quite medieval. He ends up working at the Mountain Cabin and sharing the house for the winter with seven really weird people. Warriors of the Moon Goddess, wolves, wizards and mages, werewolves and shadowy thieves, elves and half elves, dragons and the stars know what else, this world has them. It’s a lot to take when you’re a human raised to believe them as myths. When he falls for the half elf though, it was weird as it gets. One moment he wants another guy, the other he falls deeply for the Master Thief because it felt right, it felt familiar. Hmm, I don’t know what to think of that. When they came together, their lovemaking lacked the intense passion that would perhaps solidify how their relationship came to be and where it was going to take them. I just felt that particular part was not written well enough to make the entire read explode. It could, but it missed.

However, when I take a step back and look at the entirety of this book, even as I feel it needed more length for the background storyline and a little bit more love-making, I still found it absolutely captivating and certainly a must read for fans of high fantasy, because as I said at the very beginning, I just can’t wait to get to #2. Strongly Recommended!