Tag Archives: review

Midwest Book Review – IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD

InTheCompanyOfTheDead_300dpi_1842x2763 FINAL

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer at the Midwest Book Review, has a review of In the Company of the Dead in this month’s MBR Bookwatch (if you follow the link, press Ctrl+F and type In the Company of the Dead to find the review).

Otherwise, here is what she had to say:

“In a literary world increasingly dominated by staccato-quick scenes that mimic the haste of films without taking time to build foundations of support, it’s a pleasure to see something different within In the Company of the Dead. Some of the most notable fantasy authors create powerful reads with slower beginnings that lead up to a crescendo of gripping action – such as this story, which begins with orphan Ellaeva’s desire to avenge her parents’ death when she’s chosen to be the Left Hand of Death.

In her world (and during the course of her quest) the fine lines between justice and revenge blur, tainting a journey powered by grief and anger. All this is about to take yet another turn when In the Company of the Dead opens mid-quest and introduces new facets to her life’s purpose.

Much like the acclaimed fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss’s productions, In the Company of the Dead evolves slowly for the first few chapters. There are maps, a good number of characters who interact with protagonist Ellaeva, a “David and Goliath” feel as forces clash and political and personal concerns become caught in the middle of wider-ranging issues, and several different heroes, including a wandering priestess and a military figurehead.

Fantasy readers who enjoy battle descriptions and conflict will be especially pleased with Ciara Ballintyne’s attention to detail as she describes some epic conflicts that embrace romance, ideals, and life purposes after setting the stage for a compelling world packed with realistic medieval trappings and issues that demand its readers become emotionally involved in the characters’ concerns.

While In the Company of the Dead is not recommended for leisure readers seeking a quick pursuit filled with more action than thought, it’s perfect for the fantasy fan seeking depth, who appreciates a slow build-up before the fiery action begins. Such an audience will find this perfectly fits the definition of an epic saga: sweeping, complex, and ultimately engrossing.”

About In the Company of the Dead

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her slaughtered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile after the murder of his wife.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

For fans of Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson.

Buy Links

Available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and B&N.

IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD Gift Card Giveaway

In the Company of the Dead Book 1 of The Sundered Oath
BB_InThecompanyOftheDead_Banner copy

To celebrate the release of my dark fantasy romance, I am doing an In the Company of the Dead Gift Card Giveaway!

For your chance to win a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card, just visit any of the stops in the book blast tour. Different stops offer different excerpts and reviews as well as the giveaway entry form!

http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne.html

http://the-avidreader.blogspot.com/2016/05/05-blurb-blitz-giveaway-in-the-company-of-the-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne-GF.html

http://elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead.html

http://dawnsreadingnook.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-blast-tour-for-in-company-of-dead.html

https://jaceyholbrand.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/only-a-fool-would-split-hairs-with-a-god-epicfantasy-romance-ciaraballintyne-goddessfish/

http://bookschatter.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/tour-company-dead.html

http://cbybookclub.blogspot.com/2016/05/super-book-blast-giveaway-in-company-of.html

http://sarityahalomi.blogspot.com/2016/05/blog-tour-in-company-of-dead-by-ciara.html

http://www.chocomeiske.com/2016/05/05/book-blast-company-dead/

http://edgarbooks.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne.html

https://mamareniazen.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/inthecompanyofthedead-book-blast-ciaraballintyne-epicfantasy-romance-review-and-giveaway/ – REVIEW

http://nancyg1950.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-epic-fantasy-romance.html

https://www.facebook.com/naturalbripage/posts/1071719599533837REVIEW

http://readeropolis.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-by-ciaraballintyne.html

http://therobyn.blogspot.com/2016/05/author-thursday-book-blast-in-company.html

http://romancenovelgiveaways.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne.html

https://aroundtheworldinbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/book-blast-in-the-company-of-the-dead/

http://solafidepublishing.net/spotlight-on-in-the-company-of-the-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne/

http://www.starangelsreviews.com/2016/05/book-blitz-in-company-of-dead-by-ciara.html

http://stormynightbloginandreviwing.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-company-of-dead-giveaway.html

http://stormyvixen.booklikes.com/post/1395186/inthecompanyofthedeadblast

http://teresanoel.blogspot.com/2016/05/super-book-blast-for-in-company-of-dead.html

http://www.sharonlipman.com/blogs/post/IntheCompanyoftheDead

http://www.thesnarkology.com/2016/05/05/in-the-company-of-the-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne-goddessfish-fantasy-romance/

http://www.longandshortreviews.com/guest-blogs/in-company-of-the-dead-by-ciara-ballintyne-spotlight-and-giveaway/

http://usbrazilbookreview.blogspot.com/2016/05/grabby-hands-promo-post-with-giveaway_5.html

http://galestanley.blogspot.com/2016/05/book-blast-in-company-of-dead-by-ciara.html

http://www.eyesandbooks.com/blog-tour.html

http://recipe-fairy.weebly.com/book-blitzes/in-the-company-of-the-dead-book-blast-and-giveaway

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

InTheCompanyOfTheDead_300dpi_1842x2763 FINAL

Title: In the Company of the Dead
Author: Ciara Ballintyne
Series: The Sundered Oath #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance


Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—except a desire to avenge her murdered parents—until both her work and revenge lead to the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile after the murder of his wife.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

What People Are Saying

“Ballintyne’s deep characterizations make you feel for the people she’s created, root for their endeavors, and gasp at their tribulations…The clash of the gods, political scheming, a castle under siege, and a hidden enemy make the premise solid. The action scenes with the element of magic and spells are vivid and suspenseful. The prose is wonderfully evocative and the plot has good twists and is well-paced; the story doesn’t take too much time to unfold, but doesn’t hurtle too quickly to the end either. In the Company of the Dead is an engrossing read, a good choice for fantasy fans who like a meaty storyline.” ~ Readers’ Favorite


“Ciara Ballintyne writes adventurous tales that revel in their sense of sheer fun, and IN THE COMPANY OF THE DEAD takes that to a proper battlefield-sized fantasy. Between the gallant but disgraced general and the priestess of Death And Justice, the tale gives us rampaging undead, the schemes of vast nations and small-minded men, holy powers, true love denied, and the clash of armies. All the good stuff.”~Ken Hughes


“Fascinating characters with complex emotions and interactions. Full of intrigue, gruesome battles, and magic, with an undercurrent of passion and rage. A thrilling introduction to this epic fantasy series!”~PJ Lea



Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Other

Chapter 1
Premonition

Only a fool would split hairs with a god, least of all the goddess of death, but Ellaeva would count herself such a fool and consider it worth it—if she could get away with it.
She leaned across the knife-scarred timber of the tavern table.
“Are you sure?” she asked, her tone even and barely loud enough to be audible over the noise of the flute and the zither. Her work on behalf of the goddess Ahura, adjudicating the small war here in Dayhl, could only be abandoned in favour of a greater threat. If she was going to chase off after the man who killed her parents, she needed to be sure her arguments stacked up. The pursuit of personal justice wouldn’t be enough.
Is it justice or revenge?
No time to worry about that now. She tugged her black hood farther down over her infamous face, even though deep shadows blanketed the common room corner. She’d chosen a table far from the tallow candles mounted in their stag-horn chandeliers. There was no point taking chances; the black hair and porcelain skin of a Tembran would be remarked here among the platinum-haired Dayhlish. Besides, someone might recognise her.
“In Ahlleyn, sure as the spring comes after winter, Holiness.” The narrow-faced man across from her grinned, baring teeth more brown than yellow. The acrid smoke from the candles didn’t cover his pungent breath.
She half-stood, making an urgent, negating gesture as she glanced around, but the hubbub of chatter from the patrons and the music covered his slip. No one even glanced their way. On the far side of the room, away from the two blazing hearths, tables were pushed aside for dancing. She dropped back into her seat, her black robes fluttering around her booted feet.
Ahlleyn lay on the other side of the continent, months of travel by horse. If her informant was right and a Rahmyrrim priest had been dispatched there, he would likely be gone long before she arrived—unless she begged a favour, but she’d not do that for a lark of her own. However, if it meant catching the man who killed her parents, well then maybe she could come up with an argument that would hold water for a god. Old grief and anger, stale from a decade or more, stirred in her gut, and her fingers curled around the edge of the table.
Releasing her grip, she reached to the inner pocket in her robes where rested the smudged charcoal drawing of a man. Hard work and luck had helped her obtain that picture of the man she believed killed her parents—a man she knew to be a priest of Rahmyr. If she decided to act against her standing orders, then she needed to be sure it was the man she was after, and that he was involved in some act heinous enough to attract her goddess’s attention.
“Did you get the name of this priest? Or his description?” An unknown number of priests served Rahmyr, but she knew six by sight—six still alive anyway.
The thin man shook his head. “Nobody mentioned. I got the impression he’s already there, or on his way leastways.”
She scowled. No way to be sure then that this was the man she wanted. Begging favours of Ahura for her personal satisfaction was a risky business, especially if she neglected her duties, and perhaps it would all be for nothing.
With one hand, she flattened the map that curled on the table between them. The patrons behind them exploded with laughter at something unheard. Ignoring the noise, she stabbed her finger at an unmarked portion of the map in the foothills of the Ahlleyn mountains. If he didn’t know who, maybe he knew the what. “There, you say? What possible interest could Rahmyr have there? There’s nothing of interest at all.”
She lowered her voice even further as she uttered the name of the goddess of decay, and glanced around again. That name spoken too loudly would bring unwanted attention. But nearly all the tavern patrons were busy whirling on the impromptu dance floor or lined up to watch the dancers, their backs to her.
The nameless man leaned forward, treating her to another stomach-clenching blast of foul breath, and touched a spot perhaps half an inch away from her finger. A tiny, unlabelled picture marked something there.
“Here, Holiness.”
She squinted at the picture, letting his lapse slide. The image represented a holy place. There was an old shrine to Ahura somewhere in the Ahlleyn Borders, wasn’t there? And a castle built over it. “Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais.”
“That sounds like the name,” he agreed. “Never could get my mouth around them Ahlleyn words. Pink castle, I heard.”
She grunted. That was the one. “There’s still nothing there.”
Nothing of interest to Rahmyr anyway. The shrine wasn’t particularly important, and the castle held no political significance.
“What’s there,” the man said, “is Lyram Aharris.”
The premonition went through her like a blast of icy wind, stiffening her in her chair as the hand of the goddess brushed against her mind. A light caress, but from a giant, and so it sent her mind reeling. She clutched the table for support. Lyram Aharris’s reputation preceded him the length of the continent: eight years ago, at the age of twenty-seven, he’d brought an end to the centuries-long conflict between Ahlleyn and Velena through a series of brilliant military manoeuvres. He’d survived the Siege of Invergahr against near-impossible odds, brought the crown prince safely clear of the conflict, and fought the Velenese to a standstill using their own guerrilla warfare tactics against them. As a novice, she’d covered the tactics thoroughly as part of her studies. The man was a military genius. That he was third in line for the throne of Ahlleyn was the least there was to know about him—at least it was, until his king dismissed him from court. The rumours on everyone’s lips said he murdered his wife, even if no one could prove it.
What did Rahmyr want with him?

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be?

If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ. Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Stalking the Demon On Net Galley

Stalking the Demon

Until 31 January, Stalking the Demon is available on NetGalley—if you’re a member there, look it up to request your free copy.

About Stalking the Demon

Stalking the Demon Free on Story Cartel

Six months ago, the disgraced wizard, Alloran, sacrificed his hand and risked his life and soul to rescue the woman he loves from his traitorous friend. Despite saving the city from a demon, the council of wizards punished him severely for practising banned magic.

Now he learns his desperate attempt to banish the demon threatens to send the whole world to hell. To unravel the damage, Alloran is forced to dabble in taboo hell magic, and must choose between saving himself and everything he holds dear.

This is also your last chance to sign-up to the mailing list for your exclusive sneak peak at the cover art of In the Company of the Dead. You can sign up here—receive a free story, and other subscriber exclusives such as early access to quizzes and art, and subscriber only sales. Be quick, as the cover reveal will be this Friday for subscribers only!

About In the Company of the Dead

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

Chosen as a five year old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.

Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant: A Review by Ciara Ballintyne

Lin is dragged from England to backwater Germany by her father, Dr Oliver Fox, obsessed with the discovery of the famed Allerheiligen glass, a set of stained glass windows missing for hundreds of years, perhaps no longer even in existence.

Lin thinks her biggest problems are completing her final exams in a foreign country and serving as interpreter for her father as he chases the fabulous glass, but these are the least of her worries. For the glass is rumoured to be haunted by the demon Bonschariant, and murder and woe have followed in its wake ever since its creation. No sooner has the family – Lin, her elder sister Polly, younger brother Ru, and her parents – arrived in Germany than Lin has stumbled over a corpse.

The story is told from Lin’s point of view, and the author does an excellent job of capturing the essence of a wilful teenager. That said, that very fact drove me nuts sometimes, as the childish foolishness and wilful blindness of said teenager left me furious and wanting to smack her across the head. Teenagers may more readily relate to Lin than older adults, but the simple fact I found Lin so annoying speaks to the author’s skill when it comes to characterisation.

The story is solid, with her enough mystery, conflict and intrigue to draw the reader onwards. While I wouldn’t say I was desperate to finish the story, I certainly felt compelled to read on. The opening was a little slow, and I was perhaps a quarter of the way through before I felt the story had really captured me, although that may have been because I had the wrong expectation of the book.

The author has a particularly deft hand when it comes to leading the unwary reader down the garden path, and then springing a surprise twist.

I expected it to be speculative fiction, but I’d classify it as more crime/thriller/suspense in the vein of The Da Vinci Code. That said, if you like that genre, The Glass Demon is well worth the read.

glassdemon

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: A Film Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


For my 100th blog post, I’m welcoming Louisa Klein to Flight of the Dragon with a review of the newly-released “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. I cannot express the depths of my jealousy – it doesn’t start screening here in Australia until the day after Christmas! Everyone’s talking about and I can’t see it. I guess I’ll just have to wait… In the meantime, we have Louisa’s review. Enjoy!
~
 
This is probably the most difficult film review I’ve done since Lost in Fiction started. To cut a long story short, I do think you will find this movie FREAKING EPIC, adventurous and entertaining. All actors are great, even those with minor parts. Special effects are BEYOND AWESOME. That said, if you, like me, are one of those fantasy geeks who know every word of the Hobbit by heart, you’ll be, if not disappointed, at least a little bit perplexed.

First, let’s not forget that the Hobbit, contrary to the Lord of the Rings, was a novel expressively conceived for children. Tolkien declares it several times in his letters, his publisher,  George Allen & Unwin Ltd, printed in 1937 a first edition of The Hobbit after his ten year old son ‘reviewed’ enthusiastically the manuscript Tolkien had sent over. The Hobbit therefore entered the publishing world as a book which nowadays would be considered ‘midgrade’. A light-hearted children’s book.  

The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s fantastic world. The only ‘main plot’ is the killing of Smaug the dragon, nothing more.

The film is very, very different, to a point that in the UK is for children who are 12 or older so, almost a ya movie. To make a children’s story palatable to young adults and adults and to stretch a short book into three episodes of over two hours each, you have to add a lot of stuff and Peter Jackson added an awful lot of things Tolkien would have never ever even considered.   

First of all, there is no character named Finbul and no horde of warg riders who pursue Thorin & Company. And Azog, the white orc who is seeking revenge, actually died in the Battle of Azanulbizar. Azog’s son, Bolg, does appear in The Hobbit to get revenge, but appears only at the Battle of Five Armies at the end of the story.  This whole orc thing is really too reminiscent of Lurtz and his fellow Uruk-hai pursuing the Fellowship in The Fellowship of the Ring. It also transforms a children’s story into an unnecessarily violent action film but, hey, we are aiming at teenagers here, right? They want some action.

And what about the infamous Necromancer? When Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, he didn’t have a clue of what would come next. In fact, as he clearly states in his letters, he thought of it as a standalone novel, not the first book of a series.  Although Gandalf mentions the Necromancer several times, The Hobbit has no passages in which any character actually encounters the Necromancer, and the Necromancer’s appearance is never described. (In The Lord of the Rings, the identity of the Necromancer is revealed to be Sauron, who, according to Tolkien’s descriptions and illustrations, took the from of a giant man with burnt, black skin).  Tolkien didn’t know who Sauron was at the time, nor had a clue about Gollum’s magic ring which, in the Hobbit, it’s just a clever trick to give Bilbo an easy out of the goblins’ mountain.
 
As for Galadriel, here again played by the beautiful and talented Cate Blanchett, she does not appear in The Hobbit.  And that’s because, when he wrote it, Tolkien hadn’t invented her yet. Plus, Peter Jackson hints that Gandalf and Galadriel had like a fling or something when they were both younger I mean… Aehw! 

Speaking about the other characters, they are, well, mostly the funny characters of a children book. Thorin’s quest for the treasure of Lonely Mountain comes across in The Hobbit as greedy and selfish by contrast with the cause that binds the protagonists together in the Rings novels, and the quest’s progress is a series of embarrassing but exciting misadventures. Thorin wants, to put it clearly, his money back. He is far from being a noble warrior; dwarves are, in the Hobbit, a bunch of odd, gold-oriented funny characters, created to make children laugh.  

The book explains how Bilbo became an unlikely hero, and how he got his hands on the One Ring, but it rarely portrays his quest in a positive light, given how much time Thorin and his company spend puffing themselves up, then getting into trouble and requiring rescue.

The conflict between the original Hobbit material and the material generated by Jackson and his collaborators might, again, leave the real purists perplexed, but doesn’t it make “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” a bad movie. At its best, it recaptures the Rings movies’ breadth, detail, and staggering sense of beauty. Jackson retains the sense of an entire world created on a vast scope for a film. 

If you are looking for good two hours of real entertainment, this movie is definitely what you are looking for!

About Louisa Klein:

Louisa Klein is 25, lives in the UK but was born in Germany and brought up in Southern Europe by a German dad and an Italian and French mum, which made her a little confused at first. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and a postgraduate one in Marketing. She’s been working in publishing on and off since she was 17 and currently is a freelancer and a storyteller: her first is the urban fantasy “Supernatural Freak”. At night she puts on a mask and fights British crime. She gets very little sleep.

You can find Louisa at any of the links below:

Twitter: @LOSTINFICTIONUK

Book blurb: When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she’s very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She’s more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it’s much worse.

The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland’s power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes. 

She’d rather stick a pencil in her own eye, but to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of Robyn.

There, she discovers a secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland’s enemies for good, a secret that puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.