Category Archives: Fantasy

Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality. Includes: fantasy (Dungeons & Dragons, High Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy), fables (mythical creatures, like unicorns, faeries, ghosts, Greek and Roman gods, vampires, zombies, werewolves and other were-animals), non-Biblical angels and demons, and other non-sensical or magical creatures or characters.

Wee Free Men by Pratchett

I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s from the time I read him for the first time; in fact a fan from page one. That book was Going Postal. Not only was it part social commentary and (a large) part comedy, but it was brilliantly written. When Moist finally gets the stone free from his cell it comes out with a “slightly inappropriate” twinkling noise. It’s been more than a decade and that scene is etched in my memory.

Wee Free Men
by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins
July 2006

Since then, I’ve read many more of his books. The Colour of Magic and early books are good enough, but the guards and capitalism series are where I really latched on. I really wanted to read his last book – ah, that hit me in the feels just now – but I didn’t want to until I read the other Witch books with Tiffany Aching. So I started with this one.

It’s one of Pratchett’s children’s books. The difference, in my opinion so far, is that there isn’t as much commentary and even the hints about sexuality aren’t there. Otherwise, it’s still fun, comedic, adventurous and definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to the next three so I can finally get to the final book. Looking forward and dreading.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Rowling

One of the best books of the last couple decades!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J.K. Rowling
Thorndike Young Adult
November 1999

I’ve been listening to the audio books of several series with my boys (ages 8 and 11) and was excited when we finished up the first Narnia book (chronologically, the Magician’s Nephew) and started in on Harry Potter. While my older boy and I have both read this book previously and seen the movies multiple times, re-reading was a great joy! There were many parts that I’d forgotten about or remembered the movie version instead of the book’s original version.

The reader, for the audio book, is excellent as well. We are very much looking forward to book two as we make our way through this, Narnia and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Video Game Plotline Tester by Atamanov

Timothy needs a job. He’s good at MMORPGs. So when the biggest VR online role playing game advertised “tester” jobs, he saw a perfect fit. And it was in so many ways.

Video Game Plotline Tester
Dark Herbalist 1
by Michael Atamanov
Magic Dome Books
January 2017

He is given the job by the corporation of playing as a rare combination of race and job and then blogging (with video) how to play as that character. His combo? A goblin herbalist. Not exactly a great combo. Furthermore, he can never change it. Even if he quit the job. Timothy makes it work, along with the help of his sister, who also plays, and soon finds that he is making a ton of money and rising in stature at the company. He also moved out of the slums, and has an incredibly attractive (and important company programmer) interested in him. Everything he does works out for him. Every. Thing.

And that’s the weakest part of this book. It’s not the detail that only RPG games may understand. It’s not the plot, which goes almost no where. It’s that everything works out. This book is like a dream the author had about a game he played. In that dream, he got everything he wanted: some online personality, money, stature, the girl. It’s just too much success to be believable.

Still, it’s fun. It’s fun to imagine the same things happening to a character I’m playing. This is a series that has three books so far and I’m most likely going to read the others. Completely for fun. With my brain peacefully at rest.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Green Ember by Smith

Can you imagine rabbits and wolves with swords fighting? Unbelievable!

The Green Ember
by S. D. Smith
Story Warren Book
December 2014

This is the story of an entire army on the attack and a scared little rabbit becoming a hero. The author has a vivid imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed his book. Recommended very highly to all. I’m actually looking forward to reading more of their books about these little furry creatures that were amazing soldiers. Who would believe it?

From the publisher: Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

Year One by Roberts

A strange interesting post apocalyptic novel where a devastating virus kills a massive amount of people in the world and at the same time magic awakens in the world. I’m looking forward to the next novel.

Year One
By Nora Roberts
St. Martin’s Press
December 2017

FYI: NSFW at times, with strong language and a couple of brief accounts of sexuality. Very brutal at times. Lots of apocalyptic violence.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Secondborn by Bartol

A very interesting book. It appears to be the future, but I’m not really sure.

Secondborn
Secondborn Series Book 1
by Amy Bartol
47North
August 2017

The world is divided into two groups of people. The first born, who hold all the power, and the second born who take care of the first born and fight all the wars. The main character is a daughter of the sword, but is the second born and is literally thrown to the wolves. I liked the book.

4/5 Stars

From the publisher: Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.

On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.

Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.

But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 86 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

A tale as old as 30 years is retold with almost exactly the same story, visuals and songs. It’s so close to the source material that one is left wondering why we needed a remake of the beloved animated feature.

Belle (Emma Watson) wants more. Gaston (Luke Evans) wants her. The Beast (Dan Stevens) wants to be loved. Le Fou (Josh Gad) doesn’t know what he wants. Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) want to be human again (sans the song from the stage play of the same name). And we all know how it ends.

So why watch the film at all? It isn’t that clear to me. But there were some things I enjoyed.

Watson and Evans are great in their roles, looking very much like the original characters and acting much the same. [SPOILER] Learning Maurice’s (Kevin Klein) reasons for leaving Paris and where Belle’s mother went was a nice addition. [END SPOILER] I liked that the new material was very close to the source material that I grew up with. Beauty and the Beast was and is one of the most cherished films of my youth and this film didn’t destroy that as happens all too often with other movies from source material from the 80s or 90s (I’m looking at you Transformers, G.I. Joe, Smurfs, A-Team, and so many more).

There were also things I didn’t like, like, [SPOILER] giving the mirror the power to transport was interesting, but left plot holes about why it couldn’t transport Belle and her Father later in the film. [END SPOILER] I dislike that every film that takes place in any other era of time or location has characters with English accents. After all, dear, this is France – so why couldn’t Belle and Gaston have French accents? I dislike that there is a huge castle that can’t be found (because: magic?) until Maurice comes upon a downed tree and then everyone can find it.

I also didn’t like the controversy surrounding Le Fou. It was quite a lot for such a small thing, I thought, all the way until the end, where [SPOILERS] one of the villagers is cross dressed by Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and likes it and then when Le Fou sees the male villager dressed as a woman their eyes light up and a clear zing happens on screen leading to them dancing with each other. [END SPOILERS] What the creators want to add into films is their prerogative, but it is also my prerogative as a parent to determine what my children can watch. I did take my teen daughter to this and asked about her opinion and she said she didn’t pay attention to that part much but did notice it. If that matters to you, as it does to me, it may change how you see the film. The worst part about this addition was that it was a controversy that didn’t need to be there.

Setting aside controversy, what I liked and what I didn’t I was left with my original question: why make this film at all? I get remaking Cinderella (1950) and the Jungle Book (1967) because they were so long ago at the time of their remakes (50+ years each) and society has changed so much over the course of two or three generations that the originals seem quaint and a little vapid. But I don’t get Beauty and the Beast (1991) or the upcoming The Little Mermaid (1989) or The Lion King (1994). Children today have grown up on these films and they came out when their parents were teens. Plus the stage adaptations are even more recent (and having seen the stage version of Beauty, I’d say maybe better.)

If there were no animated film I would have enjoyed this more. But having loved the original film (and animation) as well as the stage adaptation I just don’t need to see another version of the Tale as Old as Time. Seeing new versions every 10 years isn’t making this story more beloved, just making it more old.

2/5 stars. Language was mostly clean. No nudity or sexuality. Drinking was at a pub and no worse than the animated version. Cross dressing and “gay moment” are briefly seen.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

Department Zero by Crilley

Multiple dimensions, the end of reality and all worlds, plus Cthulhu.

Department Zero
By Paul Crilley
Pyr
January 2017

Harry Priest is a crime scene cleaner. It was as close as he could get to being in law enforcement. He’s called to a scene that defies logic – it’s so graphically gross. He is sent off the scene by Havelock Graves, someone who works for something called ICD (Interstitial Crime Department). When Harry accidentally kills a member of ICD, Graves brings him on as a replacement/ bait and he soon finds himself embroiled in an interdimensional battle to save all of time and space from the monsters written of by H.P. Lovecraft.

Good comedy usually has a funny character and a straight character, but this book has two so-called comedians. Everything they say is sarcastic and rude to each other. By the time I got to the midpoint of the book, I came to believe that Harry and Graves are essentially the same person. And when everyone in the book is equally sarcastic no one becomes likeable. It’s like bad cop, bad cop. One of these guys should have been the good cop. I stuck it out to see how it went – partially because of the inexplicably close relationship Harry has with his daughter and the hope that he and his estranged wife may work things out. No spoilers!

In the end, we have an interesting idea, cool settings, fun gadgets, a main character that is easy to like because of his family, and a lot of cliché writing. If expectations are lowered to this point, then this book can be entertaining. But for the most part, I’d recommend re-writing Harry to remove the sarcasm and give us an “every man” to root for.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Dark Blood by Smith

darkbloodRham Jas Rami is on a mission that only he can do. But he is going to need help. And he is going to have to complete it quickly.

The Dark Blood
by A.J. Smith
Heads of Zeus
December 2016

In the second installment of the Long War, the title moves from Brom (the Black Guard) to Rham Jas Rami (the assassin with uncanny powers) who is the only person who can get past their dark magic and kill one of the Seven Sisters. All the living characters from the first book continue their story as well, including interesting intersections between them as knights confront Free Company barbarians, southern warriors against merchant cities, and the introduction to a new race and participant in the Long War and perhaps the last Old Blood.

What I enjoy about this book is that while characters do rise and some die, they all evolve. They aren’t the same caricatures of fantasy heroes that serve their function and then pass away. They also aren’t morally ambiguous. I love that several characters who are enemies, remain enemies, but join the battle against the dark god who is trying to win the Long War. Why? Because right or wrong outweigh nationality. And good characters are good, bad characters are bad. I find this better and more enjoyable, like Tolkien, rather than the moral mess that Martin has started (but not finished.)

I’m very much looking forward to the third installment. This is epic fantasy in a very well crafted world with characters I enjoy reading about.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Black Guard by Smith

blackguardBrom’s parents are dead, his friends and sister missing, and his home sacked. And he’s too far away to do anything about it.

The Black Guard
by A.J. Smith
Heads of Zeus
September 2016

The Long War has been waged for eons and will continue for eons – unless the Seven Sisters can upset the status quo and win the war for their god. Under their power, kingdoms wage war and established gods find their followers and influence diminishing. By the time the world wakes up will it be too late to stop?

The world of the Long War is suitably small – just three countries, surrounded by waters to the west and between them, ice to the north, sand to the south and unending forest to the east, with a map helpfully included – but also very deep as well. At the start of the saga, Smith gives the reader only information about the three main countries, but as the novel progresses – and the who trilogy – we find a lot more than what met the eye. Additional races, histories and creatures – even more gods – join the war. But the story stays relatable, unlike some “epic” fantasy, by focusing on a core group of characters and their interactions with the war.

Brom, his sister, their friends, and even some knights and warriors of the countries around them give characters that are easy to follow and find yourself rooting for. Unlike Martin’s characters, which this book alludes to on the cover, there are good and evil characters and while death does come it doesn’t come to everyone or in meaningless ways. In this way, I found this series to be superior to the messy, never ending series of books in the Game of Thrones series.

This is a fantastic, fun, deep, and well written epic fantasy more in line with Goodkind, Williams or even Sanderson than Martin. I enjoyed it thoroughly and look forward to the next books.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.