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The Battle of Barkow

The Battle of Barkow by [Simmonds, Paul]4 Stars

The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue).  The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?

The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of  the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.

The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.

Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX

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The Jinxed Pirate

The Jinxed Pirate (Graylands, #2)5 Stars

Adventures like these don’t come very often. Riddled with intrigue and building up a world The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a definite read. We have a delightful cast of characters from the mercenary to the tragic warrior princess with a splash of other-worldly beings as well. All of their lives and paths will come together in an excellent adventure where you might find yourself rooting for the bad-guy without realizing it. Each character is on a journey of sorts and where it leads them is anything short of ordinary. What happens when the warrior princess can’t save her people? What about the mercenary who doesn’t seem all that interested in what he’s doing? Our title character himself even seems to shift his shape depending on what his needs are. The carnal animal driven only by his desires. These all come together with fantastic story-telling and riveting action to create a beast of a tale.

The language in this book is intellectual without being dry; descriptive without being desperate. Walsh knows how to craft a tale and the way the narrative flows demonstrates an excellent grasp of a writer’s tools. Our prologue and epilogue are written in the first person, yet we don’t know much about who is showing us this world. The rest of the tale is told from the third person and that effortless transition really speaks to how well Walsh has command over the story. Some authors can let the tale run away from them and it ends up becoming nonsense. Walsh takes on a large task, and delivers.

While this book appears to be part of a series, it can stand alone just fine. It is rare to find an excellent book that is part of a larger tapestry that can be enjoyed on its own. The Jinxed Pirate achieves that sense of completion without discounting the possibility of the world being expanded either before or after the events we read about.

In the first few chapters we are introduced to our cast of characters. The descriptions that Walsh provides enhances the image in the mind of the reader. The reader is also not overwhelmed by excessive information. There is a delicate balance to be struck here and Walsh appears to be no slouch with his craft. The imagery and information flow effortlessly together.

If you’re looking for an excellent read with the potential to be wrapped up in a bigger world, The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a must-read. Too often writers attempt to create worlds that span multiple books but rely to heavily on the audience consuming every single volume in order. Enough backstory is explained in this edition that prior knowledge of the world is not required. This only proves to intrigue the reader and assist in capturing their attention and desire to know more. This is not a book to be underestimated. Readers will not go wrong adding this to their ever-growing pile of ‘must-reads’. This reviewer suggests that, perhaps, you place this one near the top.

Pages: 494 | ASIN: B06VWKX52Q

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