Roll the Dice on Orconomics and Gain +4 Happiness

imageOrconomics: A Satire
(The Dark Profit Saga Book 1)
Author: J. Zachary Pike
Publisher: Gnomish Press
Pages: 385
Genre: Satirical Fantasy
Twitter: @jzacharypike
Facebook: JZacharyPike

One of the things I love most about the fantasy genre is the how easily I can emerse myself in that particular world. While I never had the opportunity to play Dungeons & Dragons as a youth, I did play World of Warcraft. What an amazing experience! A world of endless borders where I could walk end-to-end, and even without seeking out battles or quests, I could simply explore the world of Azeroth.

Of course it was easy to lose oneself for hours, nay days on end: Farming for coins and saving to purchase epic armor or weapons, traveling to city centers to get the best deal on a trade, selling items I created through my “talents”, talking to Non Player Characters (NPC) and searching for quests. I definately can not leave out the time honored tradition of looting our defeated enemies, ending up with either torn animal hides or a Legendary Weapon.

It’s been a few years now since I last played since I played WoW and I have to say I often miss it.

Why the walk down nostalgia lane? Because while reading Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike I was immediately transported to those fun days running quests and looting my dead enemies. When I was approached with an offer for a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review, I did not know wha to expect. My past camping experience aside, the premise of the novel is intriguing enough to pick up.

J. Zachary Pike

J. Zachary Pike

The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. On Arth, professional heroes are hired to slay fantastic creatures with magic weapons. The beasts’ treasure is hauled back to town and divided among investors.

Since his career as a professional hero ended in failure decades ago, Gorm Ingerson’s life has been a cycle of petty crime, heavy drinking and avoiding the Heroes’ Guild. But when the Dwarf helps a Goblin secure its NPC documents, he quickly finds himself in the clutches of the guild’s enforcers.

It will take all of Gorm’s Dwarven resolve to survive political intrigue, fundamentalist lizard men, purse kobolds, healing potion addicts, and worse. Yet even if he succeeds, it may not be enough to protect his party from the dark secret behind their quest.
Orconomics is a joy to read. J. Zachary Pike is a Master Dungeon Master and weaves a fantastic tale that is funny, full of adventure and

If you’ve ever sat around a table with multi sided dice, creating wild adventure and trying to determine if the spell your wizard cast indicted +4 physical damage or -2 Intellect drain, or if you’ve immersed yourself in an MMORPG, then this novel is for you. Even if you have NO. IDEA. WHAT. I. JUST. WROTE,  but you enjoy the lighter side of Fantasy, then this novel is for you.

Roll the Dice. Get ready to Level your Fantasy Reading this Summer.  Orconomics should be on every fantasy lover’s reading list this summer.

+4 Stars out of 5.

Download your copy of Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike today! CLICK HERE. 

Special thanks to Sage Adderley and Sage’s Blog Tours for letting me participate in this tour.


An Echo of the Ascended Series Continues with Broken Banners

imageBroken Banners
(A Reaper of Stone Book 2)
Author: Mark Gelineau & Joe King
Publisher: Gelineau & King (Feb. 2015)
Pages: 90
Genre: Fantasy

I told you I had more to say about the astonishing An Echo of the Ascended Series by Mark Gelineau and Joe King, so here I am again this week reviewing the second novella in their A Reaper of Stone series. As you may recall I was completely broadsided by how much I enjoyed the first novella, A Reaper of Stone, so much so that I immediately went out and not only downloaded this story, but two more. In my first review (which you can revisit here) I gave the authors praise for creating a wonderful, rich, addicting world filled with strong, captivating characters. Not to rehash much of what I’ve already written, but the Ascended series is centered around 5 characters, each having their own set of novellas that are set in the larger fantasy realm of Aedaron. Gelineau and King have an ambitious plan to release a new novella in the overall Ascended arc every month.

While I received a free copy of A Reaper of Stone in exchange for a fair and honest review, this novella was purchased by yours truly. That’s how much I enjoyed the first story. Hoping that Broken Banners would continue the excellence of the first, I made my way to the nearest wifi hotspot while on vacation and set about getting the next installment.

Mark Gelineau

Mark Gelineau

Broken Banners leaves off where Reaper of Stone ended. We are thrown into the next adventure of Elinor, a Reaper who is assigned the task of coordinating the dismantling and handover of marches and keeps in a kingdom going through a lot of change. While on her current assignment she realizes that the transfer of the most current keep may not be on the up and up and proceeds to investigate. What she finds, like in the first novel, is a disturbing trend of cronyism and evil.

Joe King

Joe King

There is an undercurrent of the supernatural that permeates through this series. Unlike other fantasy series that focus a bit much on magical swords, wizards or dragons, The Ascended series is more character driven and expertly dishes out just enough of the backstory and magic to keep the reader wanting to read more.

Gelineau and King weave an intricate story with just the right number of characters so as not to be confusing. The tension is appropriate and is never lost in cumbersome dialogue. The pacing is quick, so much so that I kept looking at the “time left in book” feature on my Kindle to see how much longer I had to enjoy reading. (You can probably finish the story in about 1 – 1/2 hours or a nice trip to the beach)

I’ve quickly become a vocal and textual advocate for this series, telling all of my fantasy-genre-loving-geek friends to read the series. The novellas are $2.99 each and well worth the purchase. I plan on buying physical copies for a young nephew of mine who will very much enjoy them.

At the risk of my blog becoming “The Ascended Blog”, I’m going to hold off a few weeks on further reviews of Gelineau and King’s stories. I’m knee deep in the remaining available novellas and will try to bundle future reviews. Regardless, expect to hear more.

Another 5 stars out of 5, this time for Broken Banners.

Click here to start reading An Echo of the Ascended Series by Gelineau and King.

Don’t Turn Down The Palace Job: A Witty, Fun Adventure

The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic)

imageAuthor: Patrick Weekes
Series: Rogues of the Republic (Book 1)
Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: 47North; October 2013


Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

A Death Priestess, 2 escaped convicts, a 16 year old virgin, a shape shifting unicorn, an illusionist, a former monk slash contortionist, a safe cracker and a talking Warhammer that used to be a King come together to pull off a heist in a floating magical city.

Whew! Wait…there’s more.

The Palace Job is a long con that is a fun, witty, humorous romp of a story that stays three steps ahead of the reader. It pokes fun at common fantasy / adventure quest tropes and simply enjoys itself as the story runs ahead of itself.

Patrick Weekes, a writer for BioWare (a computer gaming company) has written for all three Mass Effect games and now brings his talents to write a series of books that is worthy of being the successor of Terry Pratchett. Well, almost. It’s up there. The comedy and dialogue is sharp and Weekes uses the Rule of Three masterfully in setting up his jokes. (The Rule of Three is a comedy principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.)

With a cast of thousands (or at least a couple dozen), Weekes give equal time to all of his characters. They all get a chance to shine. Their traits and identities are smoothly revealed throughout the novel. He masterfully juggles all of his characters and gives the reader just enough of their backstory to lay the ground work for future adventures.

For example: There is a magical, talking Warhammer named Ghylspwr (Ghyl to his friends.) It/he doesn’t speak English, rather, it/he spouts phrases like: “Kun-kabynalti osu fiur’is!”

And everyone knows what Ghyl is saying.

Frankly, by the time the novel ends, you will laugh at the perfect comedic delivery of Ghyslpwr.

The Palace Job is fast paced and that leads to a little confusion with dialogue. Context is everything. It’s really a question of writing style. You’ll get used to it quickly.

Behind the comedy, behind the action, is subtle and not so subtle political and social commentary. I liked that. It added some depth into the adventure and gave it some layers worth exploring and thinking about. News reports are scattered throughout the novel, delivered by a trio of marionettes consisting of a dragon, a Minotaur and a griffin. The three represent different political factions of the story.

The plot is your typical quest/heist/get-the-crew-together/adventure/escape fantasy. Throw in a military coup, a mysterious black shadow and an Inspector Javert-ish character in hot pursuit of our scoundrels. Just when you think you think you know what the plan is, it quickly falls apart and the back-up plan might have been the plan all along. Got that?

I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. As a result, I think the formatting of the novel was a bit off. Its conversion to eBook format was horrible (I read it on a Nook so I had the epub version). It doesn’t ruin the book, just makes the reading a bit frustrating. Don’t let that deter you though. I got this for free, so really, no complaints. I haven’t seen any formatting complaints from people who purchased this novel in a long while, so I’m going to chalk it up to the review process.

As of this review, there are two additional novels in this series. Head on over and pick up a copy of The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes by by clicking here. I highly recommend this novel. You’ll enjoy reading it.

Four Stars out of Five

Spotlight on Astounding Authors

imageNew Feature here on Astounding Books. Writing and publishing a novel is an incredible accomplishment. Every week we get a number of requests to review novels from independent and up and coming authors. As much as we’d love to have the time to read them all, we just can’t. Instead, we will periodically feature a few aspiring authors with novels that look interesting. Check them out, buy their books. Hopefully you’ll give them look. Then come back here to Astounding Books and let us know what you thought!

This Week’s Astounding Authors:

The Betrayal of KA by Shea Oliver

As the spaceship secretly lands on Earth, Ka’s mission is clear: find and kill Transprophetics. His shipmates think of him as a killer. On his home planet of Koranth, he is considered a murderer. Haunted in his dreams by the boy whose life he stole, Ka struggles to define who he really is.

A girl in a temple in Thailand. A boy kidnapped in Mexico. Both can do the impossible. Both can move objects with their minds. These two Transprophetics pose grave risks to the Donovackia Corporation as it plans its invasion of Earth.

With a blade in his hand, Ka’s decision to kill, or not, will reverberate across the galaxy.

The Red Wraith by Nick Wisseman

imageAs magic awakens in Early America, Naysin, a child of the Lepane nation, manifests talents that cause him to defile his tribe’s harvest ceremony. His punishment is exile. In the years that follow, Naysin’s twin fathers keep goading him into misusing his abilities. On the island of Bimshire, he inspires a slave rebellion before abandoning it; near his former home, he marches European settlers to their deaths; and in the forests of Edgeland, he ends a battle by massacring both sides. Such acts cause much of the New World to see him as the Red Wraith, an indigenous monster who delights in butchering white innocents. The infamy is well-earned, but that’s not who he wants to be. And when he encounters a group of fellow magic-users, Naysin realizes how he can set everything right…

Dark Destiny by Thomas Graveimage

Great friends. A perfect girlfriend. Life is good for 17-year-old Sebastian until tragedy shatters his blissful existence, awakening a dark power inside him. Visions of a ghostly and broken world lead to a mysterious woman who tells him that he’s the reincarnation of Death. With the title comes great power. Will he use it for good? Or, will he drown in the darkness of his own selfish purposes?



Sharon Cho Weaves a Good Fantasy Yarn with A Slice of Quietude

A Slice of Quietude
Woven Myths Book 1
Sharon Cho
Published – 2015
366 pages

imageA Slice of Quietude is the story of Kat, a guild assassin, as she struggles to transition from her old, solitary life as a ruthless, unquestioning killer to one filled with friends, love and myths come to life.

Along this journey Kat befriends a Bard, a Warrior, and Tristian – the Scarred Woman. Together the four women deal with their often, and quite literally, tortured pasts. They ready themselves to come to terms with their previous lives and embrace what fate and the gods have in store for them. In between, there is The Quietude, a sort of psychic realm, overlaid on reality that helps characters who use it focus. Not all can use the Quietude, those that can co-exist in both realms simultaneously; some better than others.

Sharon Cho has created a very deep, vibrant, mythical world and crammed it into 366 pages, which can be a bit much. Honestly, the first third of the novel is a bit hard to get through. It’s tough. There are a lot of new places, words, names to take in and Cho goes all in. There were times I found myself screaming “Ease up a bit”!

But Patience! Focus. Stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.

Kat’s journey is fascinating and thrilling. She is a strong character and a powerful personality. It’s fun to read a novel where you can’t predict where it will go next. But at times it seemed like events went too fast. For example, Kat is an assassin. Yet it seemed like I never really got to see the true, hardened, killer side of her before she started falling in love with Tristian. On the other hand, Tristian’s story is rich and mysterious. You will quickly lose yourself in her past.  Cho did a great job here introducing us to this skilled hardened fighter, then slowly showing her vulnerable side and mysterious past.

I particularly liked the character of Kinjara, the almost famous (or famous in her own mind) bard. She weaves tall tales around campfires and in taverns. Are the stories Kinjara tells real or simply myths? They are expertly woven into the novel. As the story progresses, the line between myth and reality blurs, not unlike reality and The Quietude. This was a good technique. Cho does a fantastic job of laying clues throughout the novel, gently teasing the appearance of gods, jesters and mystical realms.

Cho has a fine eye for detail….Almost to a fault. She has some beautifully written passages that draw the reader into this world. Unfortunately at other times, she’s a bit verbose in description, whipping you back out. The fight scenes are well choreographed, but overdone. Some of the dialogue is repetitive and clunky. But as the novel moves forward, Cho quickly finds her own slice of quietude and her writing really starts to flow well.

I was pleasantly surprised by the time I finished the novel, even forgetting that this was “Woven Myths #1” and happy there would be more to the story.

A Slice of Quietude has humor, adventure, action, fantasy, comedy and romance. Overall I recommend this book. Sharon Cho is an author to keep an eye on. Get on over to AMAZON by clicking HERE and pick up a copy.

I received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for a fair and honest review. A big Thank You! to Sharon Cho for the honor of letting me read her novel. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to her next novel.

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5.