Published March 2013 by C-Side Media
Rating: Two stars
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Realmgolds is a steampunk fantasy novel about Determined, the Realmgold of Denning, who is forced to contend with the eruption of a civil war within his borders. He receives guidance and assistance from Victory, Realmgold of neighboring Koskant. However, a magical treaty prevents anyone from Koskant crossing Denning’s border under arms, so Determined and Victory need to get clever in how they tackle the uprising.
Despite that there is a war going on, this book is pleasantly low-action. Most of what takes place is “behind the scenes”, focusing more on the people making the decisions than those carrying them out. While I appreciate the idea of it, the execution, for me, fell flat. For a story focusing on people, there was surprisingly little character development. Far too infrequently were we allowed in Determined’s head to find out what made him tick. He tackled each problem as it came up with rarely an indication of what he was feeling. This made it very difficult for me to get more than a vague idea of what he was like, and that’s a shame because it made me not care – about him or the story.
The writing was competent, though there was far too much “telling” and not enough “showing” for my taste. The result was a flattened narrative that made me feel as though I was reading a very long newspaper article rather than an engaging novel. This, combined with the emotionally distant characters, made the reading laborious.
The world was interesting and well conceived. I liked how magic and high fantasy races were married into a technological world, which gave the setting a freshness that is sometimes lacking in fantasy novels. There is also a depth to the world that is hinted at in the story, leaving plenty for future novels to expand upon. This is a good thing. For, despite the story’s shortcomings, the potential is there. I hope Mike Reeves-McMillan takes that potential and runs with it. Even if his books aren’t for me, it will be interesting to see what he does next.
Damon L. Wakes
Published August 9th 2012 by Smashwords
Rating: Four stars
OCR is Not the Only Font is a collection of 31 very short stories, written over the course of 31 days for Flash Fiction Month. The mission? Write a story every day ranging from 55 to 1000 words. The result? A fast-paced romp of wacky hijinks where robots are romantics and minotaurs are oppressed. Intrigued? You should be.
Okay, okay, I exaggerated a little bit. It’s not all madcap-mayhem. Some of the stories are, actually, serious. In fact, if you look at the graphs at the end of the book (and, yes, I did skip to the end and read those first), you’ll see the pie chart indicating that about 1/4 of the stories are of a more serious nature. So, it’s 3/4 wacky hijinks. Not bad, right?
Not bad if you like silly stories, which I do. Some are clever with little twists that make you smile. Others are rather corny, taking on the quality of a joke that makes you groan while waiting to hear the “ba-dum-tish” piping from your computer (or e-reader, or whatever you use). But I love to laugh, so even these found a way into my heart and I admire the author’s moxie in not only writing such things down, but also in sharing them with the public in all their cheesy glory.
There are, of course, the more serious stories. Though these are good, it was the fun, quirky tales that drew me into the book. At first I thought it was the nature of flash fiction that lent itself well to silliness, but after further consideration, I don’t think that’s the case. There’s something unapologetic about these stories, exhibiting the act of writing for the simple joy of it. Considering the circumstances under which they were written, I think that makes sense. Who could manage to write a story every day for a month, if one didn’t love to write?
The writing itself, though rough in spots, was quite good, and any bumps in technique were made up for in heart. The brevity of the stories provides for an easy read, creating a “just one more” craving, like intellectual potato chips. It’s fun, it’s whimsical, and it’s worth picking up. After all, where else can you find stories about a drunken Superman or revolutionary zombies, all in one spot?