A Snippet Of A Space Opera!

Y’all know I love a good Space Opera! The galaxy wide themes, everything living at stake, huge empires colliding, all of it makes for very dramatic stories! However in the midst of those mighty Space Operas it is easy to miss out on all the little side stories that would combine together into the greater tale. That’s what reading The Long Lost War by Jeff Walker brought to my mind!

This brief SciFi story is cinematic in nature! It felt like something that would easily translate to the big screen, and dealt with deep questions while not slowing down the ever moving plot line!

It is a short SciFi story that features clones and warring forces, and one clone who seeks to question everything going on around them. One who needs to know the why of things. Is there a purpose to this war? How long has it been fought? What are the goals? Can it be stopped? Why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?

This story delivers. It pushes you to think and leaves you wondering. Really fun, quick to read, I recommend giving this SciFi a read!

Storytellers On Tour: The Wrack

Let me just start out by saying you should read The Wrack by John Bierce! This book is such a unique Fantasy! I’m really happy I had the opportunity to join in on this blog tour featuring this book and thankful to Storytellers On Tour for allowing me to participate! Please click that link to view the tour schedule so that you can see all the great reviews by other reader/reviewers who also took part. Ok ok I know you’re interested in what this book is all about so without further ado I present to you the book blurb:

(Ok so a little more ado in the form of this excellent cover art)

Book Information

The Wrack by John Bierce

Published: April 23, 2020

Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Pages: 232

Book Blurb

Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.

As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.

Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.

And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.

I had never heard of Epidemi… that word that I’d have to copy and paste to spell… Fantasy before, and so this was my very first dive into this subgenre! It was FASCINATING! Most Fantasy books focus on characters or a quest, so I started reading this book with that as my loose expectation. I was wrong. The structure of this book is uniquely situated so that each chapter reads like a short story, and those short stories follows the plague! There are characters who reappear as the story develops, but the main driving force of this book is The Wrack itself, and it is neat to see how it develops as the story unfolds! That said there is one chapter in particular that just gripped my heart featuring a beautiful soul of a person who finds themself isolated in the desert. You’ll know it when you read it, and I’ll bet you tear up too just like I did.

For me the ending of a story really matters. I can forgive all kinds of flaws in books if you give me an ending that causes me to stop and say “That is the right ending for this story” and this book delivers on that. With the structure of this story it can be tricky to end a story like this but the author pulls it off masterfully.

Speaking of the author here are some links if you would like to know more about John Bierce:

Website: https://johnbierce.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john_bierce

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/johnbierce

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18510329.John_Bierce

Now one thing I really enjoy about this book blog tour is that not only am I able to read this excellent book and encourage y’all to read it, I am also able to tell you that you can win a free physical copy of the book! There are five copies being given away free! Details on that are found here.

Seriously I hope you give this book a read! You can find it on GoodReads and on Amazon and I think you will really enjoy it. One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that if you enjoy WorldBuilding (and I do) then I think you’ll really appreciate this book! It is a bright star in the sky worth noticing.

Welcome To The New Season!

I have arbitrarily decided to end the first season of the RedStarReviews podcast and commence a new season! There are several reasons for this. One is that I figured out how the season and episode numbering system worked! That might be the primary reason. But after twenty episodes it felt right to step back, examine what I am doing, and start in a fresh way!

The podcast is the creative joy of my book reading and reviewing life! It is so much fun for me in so many ways. It allows me the creative outlet of teaching and public speaking that I have missed since leaving behind that aspect of my life. It encourages deeper studies into topics of interest for me, and above all else it creates deep and meaningful connections between me and those that listen and interact. It means so much to me that people take time out of their days to listen, and I will always be thankful and respectful of that!

For those of you who might have been unaware of my podcast, or who haven’t had opportunity to dive in yet the good news is season two is a perfect starting point! I’ve tried to design it so that you can come join and not feel like you’re missing a beat. Then if you want to take a deeper dive there is always season one to go back and enjoy at your leisure.

My goal is as it always was to have two episodes produced and released a month. The reality is that I’ll most likely just be releasing one episode a month, but hey it’s all about having and pursuing goals! Right now I’m talking about 90’s comic books and trying to share some of my love for this unique time in the industry, and I have more lined up for you this season that will bring us back to Books and even some Movie conversations! I am excited for what is to come.

I really hope you give the podcast a listen. It’s available on Anchor on Apple Podcasts on Spotify on Google Podcasts on Breaker on CastBox on RadioPublic and on Sticher which is amazing since when I started my podcast I really only knew about Apple Podcasts!

Today’s blog is really to say a big THANK YOU to all who have listened before and that I hope you continue listening along, and a welcome to all new listeners, and an invite to everyone who has not yet listened to give it a try! Thank you all. I hope everyone has a great day.

What Is Warhammer40K?

So what is this Warhammer40K I keep posting about, and how does it tie in to Horus Heresy, and if there is there just a Warhammer without the 40K? And what is it all about? Is it a book series? Or a game? Well I am glad you asked, if you asked, and if you didn’t ask but are still curious then hey this post is still here for you!

Warhammer40K (or WH40K for brevity) is the SciFi aspect of the Warhammer universe. Warhammer without the 40K is their Fantasy brand. They loosely tie together and the underlying concepts are similar, but one is in a far distant past and the other is in the far flung future. Mankind is fighting in both against the forces of Chaos that would love to destroy us all, and there’s elves and orcs and undead and monsters and rebels and lions and tigers and bears! Ok so that’s a bit silly, but you get the idea. The Fantasy is the dark history and the SciFi is the dark distant future. Both story universes are constantly expanding. And both story universes are based upon…..

A game!!! That is right! Warhammer and WH40K are role playing games of mass variety. You can play small crew/solo adventures or play massive army on army warfare depending on what you are wanting to play and invest in. it is a pretty fun and immersive game experience that is well thought out. There are all sorts of suggestions on how to get involved, where to get the miniatures you use for the games, painting tutorials (because what you paint your army matters as much if not more than what army you collect!) and all kinds of resources. If you are interested in that then a good starting point is at the source: Games Workshop has a lot of pointers on where to begin and resources to offer. Also feel free to message me if you have questions and I’ll try and help out with answers! I am definitely not an expert, but I can help look for answers.

But! WH40K (and Warhammer but my focus here us more on the SciFi) is much more than just an amazing game! It also is a universe in which several talented authors weave stories and tell tales of great conflicts and incredible feats of strength and endurance. About how humanity is always on the brink of destruction but somehow still stands against the darkness! GrimDark Military SciFi at its finest! If you aren’t sure where to get started I highly recommend Gaunt’s Ghosts as a great intro! This series follows a group of weary soldiers without a home who keep fighting for humanity because they really keep fighting for each other.

The Horus Heresy fits in to WH40K by taking place 10,000 years prior in which Chaos came closest to destroying us all and it is a magnificent book series. Y’all have heard me go on and on about that and I’ll continue to do so, so you are probably most familiar with that.

So Warhammer is Fantasy, WH40K and Horus Heresy are SciFi, they are all table top games, and books, and video games, and they’re also community when you dive deep into it. For me the primary interest is in the books, but I love the game as well and find that painting the miniatures is a but meditative. This brings our intro to an end while barely scratching the surface so keep watching for more and reach out to me if you have more questions!

Marriage, Portland, and Modesitt

Keeping with a series I love for this post! The Order War is the fourth book in L. E. Modesitt Jr’s Saga Of Recluce, and it is an excellent book!

A story about how I acquired this first printing because this one was the hardest one for me to acquire! For years I could only find the smaller Book Club edition hardcover. Everywhere I looked the results were the same! I started to doubt there was a full size hardcover ever made, but I looked in every used book store I walked in to. Then I met my wife. Not in a book store, I met my wife at an art show, but that’s another story, but my wedding helped lead me to this book!

You see, both my wife and I love to travel. We both agreed we wanted to go to new places on our anniversaries through the years, and on our first anniversary we traveled to Portland, Oregon and had a great time! In Portland is this amazing book store called Powell’s so we had to visit it! I looked for The Order War not expecting to find it after all these years, but to my delight there it was!

This book is all about the balance between order and chaos and how Recluce needs that balance, and what it will do when the balance is unnaturally abused. It is about a young talent wielder faced with the task of finding their center even if it costs them everything, because the cost of not finding that center would be even higher.

That trip to Portland will be a favorite memory all my days, and I’m thankful to have this book to remind me of it. You never know what adventures marriage will bring into your life, and I am thankful to have my wife to walk arm in arm with from adventure to adventure. You never know what stories a book on a shelf represent, and sometimes those stories mean even more than the stories written on the pages!

Ninth Of Nine: Galaxy In Flames

We have reached the end of nine straight days in a row making posts! Wooohooo! This has been a lot of fun and it has encouraged me to post snd engage more regularly so I think overall this has been a positive experience! I hope you’ve enjoyed it too! Thank you for reading along! All the exclamation points!!!!!

Today’s book is Galaxy In Flames which is the third book of the Horus Heresy and it is written by Ben Counter. So that is the third author so far in three books. What is up with that you might ask? Well the Horus Heresy is over fifty books long as a series, with another 18 book prequel series, and the climactic battle at the end has been made into a sequel series which is already four books long and growing! This truly is the neverending series and the only way they have been able to pull this off is to have a team of authors who work together. So multiple authors have joined together for this adventure and each author brings something worthwhile to the tale.

This book brings the opening trilogy to an intense and destructive close. In the first two books you have gotten to know Horus and several other key characters. You have such hopes for humanity! This book reminds you that this is a GrimDark Military SciFi series and those normally are books that will break your heart…

This series is amazing. It is long and drawn out, that is true, but honestly I am loving working my way through it and not eager to reach the end of it. These first three books have taken you on a fast paced linear story and after this book the story will soon go sideways, forwards, backwards, and all over as it starts to show the width and depth of the galactic civil war it covers. The scope of this series is amazing!

As for Horus…. you will have to read to see what becomes of Horus. But maybe after you do you might also come to understand Horus a little better. You might not! But just maybe you might.

Thank you for joining with me on thus journey of nine posts in nine days!! I am already prepping for more posts soon so hopefully I’ll be sharing quality content with y’all now on the regular!

Eighth Of Nine: Fall of Thanes

We reach the end of The Godless World Trilogy by Brian Ruckley in this eighth post. We also reach the best book of this incredible trilogy. Fall of Thanes is why Brian Ruckley earned a spot amongst my favorite authors!

This book is why I describe this trilogy as a darkly beautiful and moving story. Reading this book is like walking along a dark ocean at night, feeling the ocean trying to draw you out into the deepness it encompasses. This book took me a long time to read and finish. Not because I was bored, but because I was so emotionally invested and on edge that I could only handle the story in small doses.

How does a story grip a reader so? How do certain books just catch you in the perfect way at the perfect moment? That truly is the magic of storytelling. I know you can ask a reader about a book that meant a lot to them and they’ll be able to share that with you. To me that is a more fun and easier to answer question than the favorite book question!

There is always the potential to have different endings to a story, and it can be difficult to write the correct one for that story. This one has the correct ending for this story. This is a story that will break your heart while offering slivers of hope. It is a work of art. I truly hope I’ve helped inspire a few of you to pick up this trilogy and give it a read! I think it is one of the finest out there, and I think you’ll agree with me about the ending.

Speaking of endings, tomorrow’s post will be the ending of this batch of nine posts! I’m looking forward to sharing that with you, and hopefully using the ending as a launching pad into a new chapter!

Seventh Of Nine: The Magic Engineer

We enter the final run of three in this set of nine posts! This has been so much fun that today I am taking photos and working out how to continue with frequent posts. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in this!

Before we dive into The Magic Engineer by L.E. Modesitt Jr which is the third book of The Recluce Saga and one of my favorite books ever written, let’s talk about series and book reviewing! Seriously! As a SciFi and Fantasy fan it gets crazy trying to review (for example) book 7 of a 12 book series because anything you say can be a spoiler! If I write about the plot lines too in-depth it could ruin the overall fun for someone who wants to dive into a great series BUT I would like to talk about what I’m reading and enjoying. There is a fine line and of course the reader must beware possible spoilers, but that is also why most of my reviews try to focus on how a book makes me feel, or responses a book elicits within me, or some aspect of the story that I felt was important to me without taking from the overall series. How does this tie in to The Magic Engineer? Glad you asked!

The Magic Engineer is a standalone Fantasy book set three books in to The Saga Of Recluce. You could read this book by itself and love it. You’ll love it more if you read the first two books of the series, but still you could review this one as if it were the only book in the series. The entire Recluce Saga is like this to a degree. Modesitt tells standalone stories that normally take two books to tell and places them in an overall story that grows with each book. It feels like less of a commitment than say Wheel Of Time even though there are more books in Recluce! To be fair that is also because WOT books tend to run longer but still.

Dorrin is the Magic Engineer this title speaks of and this book further examines the balance between chaos and order that is present in Recluce. Dorrin is an outcast from Recluce, the same as Lerris in The Magic Of Recluce, and he is just trying to find some place where he can build the machines that fascinate him. However neither the forces of chaos or order want him to succeed, so how do you take on the world to pursue your dreams?

As said this book is one of my favorite books ever written. If I created a top five it would be on there. If there is one book from Modesitt that would hook you in on his stories I think this is it. As a standalone you could give it a go, but the reader in me thinks it is so powerful to me because of where it fits in the overall series, and because of how the concepts of the series have been growing to this point.

Tomorrow we will return for one last look into the Godless World!

Sixth Of Nine: False Gods

From The Godless World Trilogy over to False Gods for our sixth post out of the nine! False Gods is written by Graham McNeill and it is the second book in the Horus Heresy. As y’all know I’ve committed myself to reading this neverending and highly enjoyable series, and it is important to look back at the roots as we progress.

First off let’s talk about thus amazing cover! Philip Sibbering is an extraordinarily gifted artist who does a great job at capturing masses of Space Marines united in a singular purpose of the devastation of humanity’s enemies. Next let’s talk about why there are Space Marines and Primarchs and what is the Emperor trying to accomplish.

The Emperor is the most powerful Psyker (human able to use supernatural powers) in the known galaxy. He has existed since the early days of humanity and has tried guiding the species through the years. However humanity grew too far too fast and imploded in upon itself after spreading through the galaxy. A time known as Old Night descended in which humanity lost its science, art, communications, and soul. We had spread through the galaxy but now we were lost and adrift.

The Emperor at this point came from behind the scenes to the forefront and conquered Earth, determined to reunite humanity and to guide it into a great golden age. To do this he created genetically enhanced soldiers known as Space Marines and created his “sons” the Primarchs to lead them. Then he launched humanity on a 200 year long crusade to reconquer the galaxy. Reuniting the splintered worlds of humanity under one banner, his banner, whether they wanted it or not. Thus the Imperium Of Man was founded.

To truly understand the Heresy you must understand how vital Horus is, and how much the Emperor trusted him, and how badly the Emperor misled him. To unite humanity the forces of the Imperium have to travel through the Warp. A dark place full of wonder, mystery, terror, gods, and Chaos. The Emperor thought he could conquer this too without letting his people know that chaotic gods existed and were striving to destroy the universe. But through a series of events detailed within the pages of this story Horus comes into contact with these beings. Beings his father told him didn’t exist, while knowing they did. Now Horus must decide who to trust. Chaotic false gods, or a deceitful father.

The stage is set, the players are present, and now the greatest soul to ever exist besides the Emperor must decide what path is right not only for himself, but for all of humanity too.

Fifth Of Nine: Bloodheir

For the fifth ofvthese nine posts we return to the world of The Godless Trilogy for book two: Bloodheir.

Second books are the make or break points to a trilogy. I think it is universally accepted that the second film of the original Star Wars Trilogy was the best, yes? The ability to pick up a story, tell a new tale, and bring it to such a conclusion that you must go on to the final book is a powerful ability and Brian Ruckley has that ability in large quantities! Bloodheir picks you up right where the the opening book Winterbirth left you and quickly throws you into… well into a despair really. This one is a dark and moving tale where you really are in fear for any character you care for, and truly you find yourself caring for some characters you didn’t expect to care for!

One aspect of this story that I really love is that the world itself is a part of the story too. That is something I love about Dune as well. In this case it isn’t a hot desert planet. It is a vast frozen wilderness. It is ancient and hate filled forests. It is breathtaking mountains. Above all it is snow. And in this snow a battle takes place. A battle that will stretch loyalties to their breaking points. An intense battle first against the elements and then against the enemy. I love it when the world itself is a huge part of the story.

I admit that I was concerned when I started this book that the story wouldn’t draw me in further. That it would feel unneeded. However I quickly grew to appreciate this story. Truth told I thought the disasters and catastrophes that happened in the first book would be the worst of the series. Then I read this book and learned how disastrous it could still become! This book was even better than the first book. But it wasn’t the best book of the trilogy! That book is yet to come! We’ll talk about it soon.