Necromancer Awakening by Nat Russo: A Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the ebook from the author prior to its release date. These are my own thoughts on the work and are in no way influenced by Nat’s generosity. I have received no compensation for providing this review, nor am I affiliated with any parties involved in its creation, marketing or distribution…

Necromancer Awakening cover image

Title: Necromancer Awakening: Book One of the Mukhtaar Chronicles

Author: Nat Russo

Publisher: Erindor Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2014)

Sold by: Amazon Media EU

Formats: eBook (UK Link, US Link); Paperback

Necromancer Awakening is the first book of the Mukhtaar Chronicles, a dark fantasy series from the pen of Texan author, Nat Russo.

The story revolves around Nicolas Murray, an archaeology graduate, who finds himself ripped from his comfortable world and tossed head first into a world populated by the risen dead, skeletal warriors, tyrannical leaders and other monsters beyond imagination. Reeling from the recent death of his adoptive father and batting terrifying visions, Nicolas struggles to make sense of the rising power within him and the dangerous, foreign land he finds himself trapped in.

The novel explores the themes of loss, penance, oppression and genocide. The necromancers have been driven underground by the ruling religious monarchy, suffering severe losses and plagued with persecution. Small pockets have gathered together for protection, ruled by the Mukhtaar Lords, brothers Mujahid and Nuuan. The regular tête-a-têtes between Mujahid and his new apprentice, Nicolas help to lighten the mood of these heavy themes. The clash of cultures between modern Texan, Nicolas, and Erindor’s own, Mujahid, is also used to great effect when the author wishes to inject his off-brand humor.

The story is well-paced and action packed. Nat does an excellent job of unveiling not only his characters but the world and the systems at work within it, whilst managing to avoid overwhelming the reader with page after page of heavy description. It’s obvious that the author invested a significant amount of time in the creation of his world and it has paid off. There are few authors that know the whole of their creations the way that Nat Russo does.

I’m not usually a big fan of epic fantasy but this book has made me take a new look at this genre. All the elements are there: grand battles, furious magic, alien creatures and culture. The rich histories and geography of the world are immense and yet it is meted out in a way that keeps the reader absorbed. If I had any criticism, it would be that the characters aren’t as developed as I would have liked. Besides Nicolas and the Mukhtaar Lords, most characters encountered aren’t very memorable and are often forgotten once they’re off the page. That being said, I loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series.

The book is available now for kindle and in paperback and I urge any of you with an interest to check it out.

Nat is already working on the second book of the Mukhtaar Chronicles.

 

About Nate Russo (taken from the author’s bio on Amazon)

Nat Russo was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He’s spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing/gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun.

Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do.

He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenage son, and mischievous beagle.

For more information on Nat Russo, check out his website at www.nat-russo.com.

Only The Dead by M. W. Duncan: A Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this ebook from Amazon after the author kindly pointed out its availability (who doesn’t like a free book?). These are my own thoughts on the work and are in no way influenced by Mark’s generosity. I have received no compensation in any way for providing this review, nor am I affiliated with any parties involved in its creation, marketing or distribution…

17801886

  • Title: Only The Dead: An African War
  • Author: M. W. Duncan
  • Publisher: M. W. Duncan; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Formats: eBook (UK Link, US Link); Paperback

Only The Dead: An African War is the first in a series of novellas written by Aberdeenshire author, M. W. Duncan. It is the harrowing account of a forgotten war and the people who fought it.

The story revolves around Mark, a foreign “consultant” tasked with training a company of Liberian rebel fighters near the front line. But when government forces seize control of the Zorzor training ground, Mark must use all his training to escape to safety and protect a naive reporter who finds himself in the midst of the chaos. Led by a tyrannical warlord and with fighting lines blurring all around them, the pair learn that there is more to fear in the jungle than just the enemy.

Let’s be clear, this book is not for the faint-hearted. Duncan pulls no punches with his visceral and brutal account of the art of war. His descriptions of bloody fighting and unsanitary conditions, when juxtaposed with the beauty of the Liberian landscapes, paint the conflict in a vivid detail that draws the reader in from the onset.

The story is fast-paced and action packed. Tension is rife and the author does an excellent job in maintaining it throughout. Every release is momentary, lasting just long enough for the reader to catch their breath before they are thrust, alongside the characters, into danger once again.

Central to the story’s human aspect theme is the interaction and developing relationship between Mark and the reporter, Kyle. Their conflicting viewpoints and experiences of war provide another mechanism for increasing the novella’s tension whilst their, at times, petty squabbles add to its comic relief.

The book itself had me gripped from the off and I found myself unable to put it down. The simple language utilised by the author is unimposing, allowing the reader to become fully absorbed in the story. My only criticisms are with the, sometimes, clunky dialogue and that the story left me feeling that it would have benefitted from ending a chapter or two earlier. Yet, it is so well told that both of these things can be easily forgiven.

The book is available now for kindle or in paperback and I urge any of you with an interest to check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

For those of you already following the series, Mark and Kyle are set to return later this year.

About M. W. Duncan (taken from the author’s bio on Amazon)

M. W. Duncan lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He started writing at a young age on a typewriter his mother bought him. He still has the first story he ever wrote “Aliens In Trouble” where a group of children are recruited by aliens to fight in a intergalactic war. Now he has written the first in the Only The Dead series of novellas, An African War. He also has a character driven thriller written, Welcome To Carrion City, which will see publication later in the year. When not writing he is studying to become a counsellor at Aberdeen University. He spends too much time gaming and reading. You can find his blog here

Using Evernote as a Writer’s Notebook

Using Evernote as a Writer’s Notebook

We all have one and it goes with us everywhere we go. It’s your best friend and your worst enemy – it’s your notebook.

For the moment we decide to become serious writers, we’re told to keep one with us, filling it with ideas, snippets of overheard conversation, observations and anything else we think may, someday, make it into a story. It sits in our pockets, bags, even by our bedsides ready for that next big idea, the one that will launch your career on the path of the bestsellers lists.

For years, I’ve followed a time-honoured tradition and stuck with a paper-based notebook. Something small enough to fit in my back-pocket and light enough to be taken anywhere. I have no idea how many of these I’ve filled; I’m not even sure I know where they all are.

Recently, I was introduced to Evernote. I never really had much time for electronic means of note-taking, in part, because I write faster than I can type, but mostly because autocorrect just plain annoys me. However, a free 12 month premium subscription was enough to sway me to give it a try.

1. New note 2. New photo note 3. New audio note 4. New video note 5. Note filters 6. Note display
Evernote for Android
1. New note; 2. New photo note; 3. New audio note; 4. New video note; 5. Note filters; 6. Note display

I must say I was impressed. The versatility of the application was mind-blowing. Not only can it sync notes across almost every platform (comes in handy when you work across both Android and Windows), the type of data it can capture is not limited solely to text.

In fact, Evernote can store the following data types within a note:

  • Text
  • Images with OCR search capabilities
  • Audio and Video files
  • PDFs with full OCR search capabilities
  • Web-pages (not just links but full pages!)
  • It even boasts pretty decent speech-to-text dictation software
Evernote for Android Data Types List
Example list of attachment types

Notes are fully searchable and can be tagged with meaningful aide-memoirs. There is even the capability to geo-tag notes for those times when, back at the desk, you can recall where you were when the idea came to you but not where you filed it (happens to me more than I care to admit).

Related notes can be organised into notebooks which, in turn, can be grouped together under stacks. So, once it’s recorded, finding that big idea (and all associated notes) couldn’t be easier. 

Notes can be filed under notebooks and stacks
Notes can be filed within notebooks and stacks

But, what has sold Evernote to me is what it has added to my research. Whilst browsing the web, I can activate the web-clipper plugin and the whole page is saved into my notebook, not just a link. Which means that, even if the page disappears, I have a full screen dump of all the information I need, stored in a searchable format. If I’m walking through the city and I stumble across a location that would make the perfect backdrop for that fight scene on page 132, I take a quick photo and it’s there in a folder marked locations. Even when the wording of that argument I’ve been agonising over for days finally untangles itself in my head, I can record it as an audio file with a single click and store it away under dialogue.

Evernote has made it so easy for me to record my ideas that my mind is generating hundreds more just to see if I can keep up. The only problem I have now is choosing which to take forward as projects.