Book Review – Empire in black and gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky #fantasy #steam punk

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1)Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I began reading this book, I was unsure of whether I was going to enjoy it. The first few chapters seemed a little slow and the characters took some warming up. I did find the central premise of different races based upon insects intriguing however and this kept me going.
Perhaps a quarter of the way through, it began to grow on me. The main character, Stenwald, stopped being a bit of a whingy git and, along with the others, simply developed into a more rounded, real person. At the same time, the plot picked up and expanded, offering a larger view of the world that made the action far more compelling.
By the end, whilst I wouldn’t say I was edge-of-my-seat gripped, I was certainly engaged with the various plots and am interested in what comes next.
Particular strong points include the underlying concept I described earlier; the inclusion of what I am fairly certain are steam punk elements, something I haven’t yet read much of but enjoyed here; and the less than spotless morality of some of the main characters, some welcome complexity.
There was nothing to really steer clear of, just be aware that it may feel a bit simple to start and take a while to get into.
An enjoyable read. Empire in Black and Gold

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Review – Strangers in Paradise by @TerryMoore

This is one of the most individual, heart-wrenching and wonderful comics ever written. Following the colourful, fallible and ultimately human Katchoo, Francine and David, and a host of equally lovable supporting characters, the series takes them from a semi-normal suburban life to shoot outs with hit-women and the most frustrating love triangle ever written.

The comics are writ through with humour and passion, anger and sadness. Indeed it is the emotional journey of the characters that resonates long after the story is finished. This is not a comic for fans of lycra-clad dudes pummelling one another. If however you want to read a story that feels real, that sucks you in and makes you care deeply for the people in it, this may be for you.

Of course, the art also has to be mentioned. Beautifully drawn, this is another step up from superhero comics. Every character is unique, and not just because they have a different costume. Face shape, expressions, build, everything belongs wholly to the character. Terry Moore also uses his lettering to fabulous effect, angry words leaping across and outside panels.

With artwork that sings and words reminiscent of Gone with Wind crossed with just a dash of Tarantino, Strangers in Paradise may not be to everyone’s taste, but I urge you to at least give it a try. If you can get to the end of the first comic without falling for at least one of the characters, then you probably aren’t entirely human.


Review…Nextwave: Agents of Hate by Warren Ellis

Nextwave: Agents of Hate by Warren Ellis

Having just blogged about the wonderful, irreverent world of Warren Ellis, what could be better than reading a comic that feels so uniquely him? This collection of issues 1 – 6 of this Marvel comic package everything he does well into one, pant-wettingly silly volume.

Ellis has dug through the archives for some minor Marvel heroes, forgotten about by all but the most fervent of fans. Collecting them together into a distinctly disparate and somewhat disagreeable group he pits them against a number of foolish foes, from a giant lizard in pants to an entirely barmy army general, via soldiers made from plants. As per usual the ideas come thick and fast, as do the constant, mostly respectful jokes at Marvel’s expense.

But, as per usual, the thing that really does it for me are the characters. Gone are the classic Marvel tropes, replaced by sly though affectionate real-world versions. In Warren Ellis’ Marvel universe the characters argue, swear, take the piss and generally do their best to annoy their team mates. His bad guys rant about their marital problems and have serious mother issues. Things, you get the feeling, will rarely end in peace and harmony, but will almost certainly be far more entertaining as a result.

Ellis has released a huge number of different comic series, most only a few comics long and almost all completely his own creation. Perhaps because of the link with Marvel, or maybe just for the heck of it, he seems to have let himself go with Nextwave and really pushed the boundaries of both silliness and being over the top. Needless to say, it’s fantastic and you should go read it right now.