Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Noteworthy Reads: MAGE, MAZE, DEMON by Charles Allen Gramlich

When it comes to writing heroic fantasy --- or sword and sorcery, if you will --- nobody captures the drive and raw energy of the late, great Robert E. Howard any better than Charles Gramlich. I dare anyone to read the opening passages of MAGE, MAZE, DEMON (which you can do for free with the “Look Inside” feature on the Amazon listing) and not feel compelled to keep reading.

You will be swept up in the adventures of the barbarian Bryle as he is drawn into a mysterious cavern, at first to escape a raging forest fire and then at the summoning of a blind sorcerer. From there, in order to retrieve a powerful talisman that will gain him his freedom, Bryle plunges into a series of challenges, monstrous encounters, and narrow escapes as he is all the while negotiating the threatening maze itself. And in addition to the twisting maze, there are also some nifty plot twists.

Gramlich’s writing style is intense and distinct, at times very stark, when need be very richly detailed --- so much so that you’ll swear you can hear the ring of sword steel and start to feel the dankness of the maze closing in on you.

If your reading tastes run regularly toward heroic fantasy or if, like me, you maybe haven’t sampled the genre lately, by all means check out this exciting tale … and then go in search of the Gramlich byline for other fine work.

Strongly recommended.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Noteworthy Reads: OUTLAW RANGER - DEVIL GUNS OF THE RIO GRANDE by James Reasoner

This latest, novel-length entry (number five) in the Outlaw Ranger series is the longest and arguably most satisfying so far. To say that it’s a stand-out in an already fine and firmly established series is praise indeed. (As even more of a plus, the previous entry – THE LAST WAR CHIEF, a short novella that author Reasoner didn’t feel was long enough to warrant a print edition of its own – will be included in the print version of DEVIL GUNS)

This time out, G.W. Braddock --- still clinging to the treasured Texas Rangers badge that he can’t legally wear due to political shenanigans, yet he insists on utilizing for the sake of just causes and thereby resulting in him being branded an “outlaw” by some --- becomes embroiled in the ruthless dealings of two border gangs whose unholy alliance threatens to make the Rio Grande run red with blood.

Stolen guns, stolen women, double-crosses, and gun-blazing action propel this tale and keeps the reader turning pages faster than a gunslinger fanning a .44!

Reasoner’s writing is gritty and descriptive, his characters colorful, his plot twists exciting, and G.W. Braddock is a character you want to see ride back for plenty more adventures.

Highly recommended.